Personalised medicine; stem-cell and nano-scale medicine; gene therapy and digital health will transform healthcare between now and 2040, according to new report commissioned by Allianz Care
Authored by internationally renowned futurologist, Ray Hammond, it presents likely future developments and trends in healthcare between now and 2040.
The report identifies five key trends which, collectively, will revolutionize the healthcare landscape. These include: personalized medicine; stem-cell medicine; nano-scale medicine; gene therapy and editing; and digital health.
Commenting on what healthcare will look like in 2040, Ray Hammond said: “Healthcare is one of the few arenas in which every one of us has a stake. The next 20 years will witness profound change in healthcare, all the more notable given that medical science and healthcare delivery tend to be conservative, slow-moving sectors that are highly resistant to change. The annual global market is currently estimated to be worth around $8.1 trillion, with annual global spending on healthcare forecast to rise to $18.28 trillion by 2040. With that in mind, we have a collective responsibility to ourselves and to the next generation to determine what that change will look like and the impact it will have on all of us.”
Among the report’s key healthcare predictions for 2040 are:
- Health information from traditional annual physical check-ups and other tests previously only available in a surgery or lab will be replaced by data from sensors on/around our ‘smart’ bodies (including in our clothing and, eventually, skin and blood). This will be immediately accessible to us, in real time
- A new field of ‘predictive medical data mining’ will provide early warnings of physiological trouble ahead or indications of disease as it develops. Physicians will have 24/7 real-time reports of their patients’ wellbeing and will be alerted to any change in patients’ data that requires urgent attention
- Stem-cell medicine will be a powerful tool in mainstream medicine. For example, replacement human organs for transplant will be grown on demand from stem cells in the lab, with minimal risk of rejection
- Nano-medicine (in its infancy in 2019) may eventually outperform all other branches of medical science, as scientists create ‘designer drugs’ that are far more powerful than today’s drugs
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) ‘chatbots’ equipped with deep learning algorithms could relieve emergency room personnel of tending to large numbers of walk-in patients with non-emergencies (e.g. sore throats, UTIs)
Paula Covey, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, explains the far-reaching implications:
“This report allows us to anticipate the benefits as well as the potential challenges of this new healthcare environment, from a customer perspective. We want to be ready for this new era, when it comes to leveraging the tools available to improve customers’ health and giving them the right kinds of support. We’ll use this report to spark ideas and debate so that we can proactively plan for the future.
“But it’s much more than that. It’s clear that in the future, our business model will need to change. Currently, one of the primary purposes of insurance is that you’re covered for the unexpected. But in the future, health issues will be identified, and often addressed at birth. Health will no longer be an unknown quantity. Insurance premiums, which used to pay for health events that ‘might happen’, may evolve into a fund which is there to pay for treatment following unexpected accidents, and to access the latest technology to treat conditions which can’t be dealt with at birth. Health plans will most likely be completely tailored to each person. Plus, as the number of deaths due to unexpected or incurable illnesses decreases, populations grow and people live longer, the sheer number of people in the world will bring its own challenges in terms of making sure that everyone can get prompt access to care. This is where digital tools, robotics and artificial intelligence can really help.
“There will also be a significant shift with regards to where health information sits. Currently it’s primarily with doctors and hospitals. In the future, people will have much greater access to their own health data via in-body/device technology. We believe that future customers will need support interpreting that information and navigating the international healthcare system. They’ll also want data to back up decisions about which consultants they see and where to locate them. Our role will be to use our expertise and global network to make that process as easy as possible, while giving them access to the right care at the best rates.”