Everything you need to know about the demographics of healthcare can be found in West Bloomfield, Michigan.
Ealy Elementary School in this Detroit suburb closed in 2013. Enrollment had dropped to just 366 students and the share of school-age kids had been trending downward for decades. Meanwhile, the share of seniors over 65 more than doubled there between 2000 and 2016 to almost 30 percent. It’s not surprising then, but telling, that later this year more than 100 assisted living apartments will open on the site.
The middle aged outnumber children in the U.S. today. By 2035, so will seniors. That’s a first. In Canada, this inversion has already happened although their cutoff for “children” is a little younger. As we age, and as treatments for major diseases improve, we are living longer — often with a chronic illness. One challenge is that by 2030, the Association of American Medical Colleges projects that the U.S. will have a shortage of as many as 120,000 doctors. We are already relying on our families and loved ones to assist or lead caregiving, which can put a huge burden on relationships and life.
The future of healthcare has challenges to overcome well beyond improvements in diagnosis and treatment. There’s an impending crisis for patients and for those who provide them with care.
The hope is that technology, artifi cial intelligence and connected health ecosystems can help bridge some of the emerging gaps in the continuum of care and create better engagement experiences for patients and caregivers alike. The problem is that healthcare, as an industry, has lagged others that have been more innovative, due to regulatory demands and a generally conservative mindset. The regulatory landscape and traditionally long R&D cycles mean that healthcare and biopharmaceutical companies aren’t wired to serve or compete well in a rapidly evolving market.
Of course, it’s not just a matter of aging. Health, wellness and caregiving are issues for people throughout their lives.
As you’ll see in the discussion with Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University Robert A Knox School of Public Health we, as healthcare leaders, need to start by asking the right questions. We need to help educate the consumers about what creates what he calls “demand for health.” Cellist Zoe Keating, also interviewed here, puts a very human face on the challenges we need these technologies to help solve. Dr. Joseph Kvedar, Dr. Kyu Rhee and Arielle Burstein start to show us some of the ways artifi cial intelligence can make the healthcare experience better for patients and caregivers alike. We also dive into behavioral science with Dan Ariely and researchers from Ipsos’ behavioral team to show how these techniques can help us live healthier lives.
Because healthcare, as more than 80 percent of respondents in our What the Future survey will attest, is just too complicated. And that is not leading to better care or better health.
When we all ask ourselves What the Future we need to be thinking about all of these realities. We need to think about soaring costs, bifurcation of access, and the demographics of healthcare. We need to be thinking about how today’s realities shape tomorrow’s healthcare continuum.
We need to be thinking about how we can develop and deliver integrated therapies underpinned by artificial intelligence and connectivity to the patient/caregiver ecosystem that ultimately use technology for better prevention and greater wellness. We also need to be thinking how we can create a better experience in the context of the behavioral influences and environmental factors for those on therapy and those professionals and families alike who do the caregiving. Today’s technologies already provide the tip of the spear for greater engagement across all aspects of healthcare.
We need to understand the privacy trade-offs that people will make and make those trade-offs worth it.
We interviewed more than 30,000 people around the world, and experts from around the healthcare sphere. We looked at the future through a variety of lenses. What it all comes down to, is this: The future of healthcare needs to be designed with people in mind. If amazing new therapies are developed, but no one uses them because they’re difficult to use, or expensive, or time-consuming or stressful, we won’t achieve our aspirations for better solutions that improve our overall health and wellness. But if we ask the right questions and drive toward the right answers and test, and learn and iterate—if we do all of that, while keeping the people first and foremost, we can create a future where healthcare feels properly integrated with our daily lives.