Future Health … today’s healthcare system is essentially a sickcare system … now is the time for radical reimagination

January 12, 2022

Today’s healthcare system is essentially a “sickcare” system.

While there has been huge progress on medical diagnosis and treatments, care delivery hasn’t significantly changed structurally. It’s still largely bricks and mortar where people who are sick or acutely ill come to be seen and treated by medically trained people in surgeries and hospitals.

It was designed in an era when telephones were wired, knowledge shared in books. It was never designed without the imagination of the global organisations, remote technologies and personalised data. It was never designed to deal with the huge growth of chronic disease which now represents well over 80% of all healthcare spend.

Today if someone doesn’t feel well, they may see their GP – and probably more likely a phone call in Covid times –  get an appointment with a hospital specialist, have tests or scans, have those results looked at, and then receive the necessary treatment. This can take a long time.

Start with the consumer, the patient …

Take a look at other consumer industries. Start from the perspective of the patient. How can we help the patient understand the drivers that impact their chronic condition better so they can play a more active role in managing it. This could be getting involved in health rather than just sickness, supporting and coaching them in relation to their sleeping, eating, smoking, drinking and exercise as well as all aspects of managing their condition properly, such as adherence to medication. The aim is to proactively keep them well rather than react when they become ill.

It’s not just telling them what to do (most people who smoke know that it’s bad for their health), it’s truly engaging them, providing them with smart technology so they can closely monitor themselves. They can have devices that will constantly measure the likes of their heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, weight or activity levels.

This data can be streamed from their device or smartphone app, and processed through algorithms that show how their health is evolving. Patterns created can show that intervention is needed or this person might, for example, be at risk of a stroke or a fall. Both the person and remote-care team can monitor their health. Patients can be engaged through social networks, competitions and games. “Care Hubs” can act like a flight control centre, looking at the health of their population, based on a combination of streaming information from the patients and the health records they keep. These hubs could help patients whose data indicates the need of support, either by a two-way video consultation or a visit.

We’re essentially talking about a 24-hour connection between the patient and those monitoring them. Chronic patients have to live with the condition 24/7, so the care should reflect that.

Imagine a different future …

Imagine a future where a GP uses their tablet ultrasound to make a movie of a patient’s beating heart. When irregularities are noted, the GP shares this immediately with a cardiologist to diagnose the patient and set up a care plan there and then. There’s no need to make an appointment in weeks or months – the issue can be dealt with in real-time. This is what we have become accustomed to when booking flights, doing our finances or shopping online.

It’s a world where someone with a chronic condition has all their vital data streamed to their care team who will probably know before the patient does that someone needs to step in to provide support or treatment.

Patients will still need specialists with expert knowledge, but the patient and specialist don’t need to be in the same space at the same time. A network of connected care means several experts can look at the case simultaneously. This would enable the early diagnosis of health issues by constant monitoring before they become more serious.

This will be normal practice within 10 years. The idea of maintaining people’s wellbeing rather than reacting to an episode makes sense. It will be hard changing a system that is hard-wired to be more reactive, but that’s how it will be in the future.

The Economist summarises the emerging world like this:

Strategy& says that in the past years, healthcare systems and the pharmaceutical industry have undergone tremendous changes given technological, regulatory and socioeconomic disruptions. Covid-19 has further intensified and catalyzed these changes in healthcare systems and healthcare delivery. Among others, regulators paved the way for more dynamic and faster decision-making, approved novel technologies including digital health solutions and created new reimbursement pathways. In parallel, medical and biological research has made breakthroughs with emerging technologies including in-silico protein folding prediction, novel cell therapies and other treatment platforms. With those trends materializing, borders between industries continue to blur. This convergence of healthcare, technology and retail and consumer industries will lead to what we call the LIFEcare system, characterized by a convergence of wellcare and disease care systems.

It’s 2021 global Future of Health study suggest that this acceleration has only just begun. Over the next decade, the transformation of healthcare will shape the road to success for Pharma companies in an unprecedented way. 75% of healthcare executives agree that such systems will be widespread by 2035, especially in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, oncology and neurology. This adjustment will involve significant disruption of the value chain. At the same time, we forecast that the creation of new opportunities in areas such as preventative care and personalized nutrition will lead to a two to threefold increase in the global wellcare, creating a total value pool of 2.8 to 3.5 trillion USD by 2030.

Publicis Health, with illustrations by Visual Capitalist consider “6 Forces Transforming the Future of Healthcare”

Disruptive technologies are advancing healthcare at an extraordinary pace. By 2020, there will be 50 billion devices connected to the internet, and many of these devices will be tracking the health data of individuals. This will empower consumers in an exciting way, but it will also fundamentally shift how healthcare companies work and interact with their customers.

The smartphone boom has changed the consumer experience in practically every industry, and it is now cascading into the healthcare market:

  • Commoditized: 76% of consumers expect pharma/healthcare providers to provide services that help them manage their health.
  • Connected: 59% of consumers expect their healthcare customer services to be as good as Amazon’s.
  • Quantified: 76% of consumers expect pharma/healthcare to understand their individual needs.

In other words, the traditional healthcare model no longer aligns with the consumer mindset.

The Six Forces

Publicis Health identified six transformative forces that healthcare companies must address to gain a competitive edge:

1. Data Activation
Data reveals truths. A robust data strategy fundamentally shifts how company manages their brands.

2. Workflow-Empowered Solutions
The patient experience will be at the center of a seamlessly connected workflow of information, with integrated electronic health records (EHR) that document more than just visits to the doctor. The proliferation of EHR opens new opportunities to service healthcare professionals and patients.

3. Content Strategy
Consumers want their healthcare information and insights delivered in a personalized, engaging, accessible, and dynamic format.

4. Intelligence Services
Consumers want the healthcare industry to “find, know, and help” them, using past behaviors and AI to anticipate their current and future needs.

5. Clinical Trial Recruitment
Finding the right patients remains a major challenge for pharma. New technologies and patient engagement strategies are greatly reducing the time and inefficiencies of clinical trial recruitment.

6. Sales Model Transformation
As AI takes hold and directs more automated Rx decisions, it will be more than just about relationships but also about relevant skills to make use of the new tools, while preserving the need for human touch.


The 6 Forces Transforming the Future of Healthcare





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