What will the future of health and healthcare look like? In a series of blog posts by the World Economic Forum’s Strategic Foresight and Health teams, a number of leading voices will present their own visions for the future. Contributions are linked to the Scenarios for Sustainable Health Systems project, the Workplace Wellness Alliance and the Healthy Living Initiative. In the following post, Gary Phillips, Director and Head of Healthcare Industries at the World Economic Forum, shares his perspective on the future of health.

  1.  Your smartphone will be a more useful medical instrument to the doctor than a stethoscope or an otoscope; it will be used for SMS consults, remote diagnostics and access information, among other things.
  2. Distance learning and consults as well as telemedicine will be routine.
  3. Doctors and nurses will have jobs that are very different than today; new types of health workers will emerge, like health coaches and technology-empowered paramedical professionals.
  4. One’s health status will be monitored and tracked in real time through the use of sensors in the body, on pills, in devices and in medical transport vehicles like ambulances.
  5. Your personal health data will explode and be more accessible and portable; electronic health records, genomic profiles, behaviours and consumption patterns will allow better prediction of disease and tailoring of prevention and treatment.
  6. Preserving wellness and preventing the preventable will displace treatment of disease in the priorities of providers and payers.
  7. Regenerating and replacing damaged body parts will become a reality through the use of regenerative medicine, pluripotent stem cells, gene therapy and advanced prosthetics.
  8. Best practices developed by leading institutions will be globalized – a “Bloomberg for health” will bring transparency of best outcomes to the practice of medicine.
  9. Health delivery will occur in venues that are even more polarized than today. Much preventive and primary care will occur in homes and in communities. Centres of excellence in tertiary care will exist on the other end of the spectrum while secondary care centres become less critical.
  10. Health technologies will be more hybrid in nature, where new products are developed with combined diagnostic, drug, biologic, ICT and medical device attributes.

The Author: Gary Phillips, Director and Head of Healthcare Industries, World Economic Forum

Image: Cancer cells seen on a big screen connected to a microscope REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer