The future of healthcare

Healthcare is expected to go under significant transformations in the future. But which trends would dominate this future? How would the medical profession change? What kind of technologies will impact most and what would be the potential consequences to all of us? Will be the future dominated by genetically adjusted drugs, virtual consultation, robotic and/or nanotechnology?

To answer these queries we run a survey in the Americas covering 17 countries in the Americas from Canada to Argentina to learn the predictions, as well as their fears and hopes of over 2,600 doctors and to help us to reflect together how would this impact us, as future researchers.

Obtained insights show a significant convergence among very different countries suggesting is likely that the outlined trends might also be seen in other regions beyond the Americas.

In a nutshell doctors imagine a future lead by technological improvement, a more informed patient on the bright side, but also limited access to treatments and an impoverished of the role of the doctor in the healthcare process with a decline in respect, remuneration and working conditions.

We can conclude that based on the view of the medical communities we can be optimistic that technological innovations are certainly expected to revolutionize healthcare in the way we know it. The hot technologies making the most significant impact would be according to the respondents preventive medicine, new vaccines, immunotherapy, usage of genetically adjusted drugs, genetic engineering and biologics. However according to the physicians is likely that limited access to new treatments/technologies by market (price) and or legal/bureaucratic means will largely dominate the scene.

Another positive future expectation is the increase of the active role of the patients. Doctors will have to learn to deal more effectively with this empowered patient. The patient passive model will likely shift to a more collaborative knowledge sharing model with the physician coaching the patient.

We will likely see a proliferation and growth of patient associations lobbying for coverage of their diseases from chronic ailments to extensive proliferation of orphan diseases.
In any case is clear that the medical profession will have a struggling position as the weak link of a chain integrated by fast evolving technologies supported by the pharmaceutical and device industries, an empowered patient, and an increasingly cost conscious public and private payer.

If these tensions will lead to a more catastrophic scenario, a mixed scenario with pros and cons (as most doctors imagine) or a optimistic future is still an open question but in all of them the profession is strongly challenged. From a business point of view, in this scenario there would be a continuous opportunity for solutions that can help doctors to transit these challenges (such as continuous training, online education, digital information channels, community forums, AI solutions, etc. ).

But this is unlikely to be a smooth process, showing significant contradictions. This tension will take place far beyond the original scientific/technological context to pose political and social dilemmas. In other words societies still need to resolve how to reconcile the generalized expectation to extend life and its quality (which technologies are likely to make increasingly feasible) with the cost that would need to be collectively invested in that effort.

Doubts regarding access to the new medical possibilities are certainly worrying, though we can also keep some optimism that the pressure to generalize the technological promise by giving a wide population access pushed by the industry, empowered patients and educated physicians, may well also impact positively in the process.

About the author:
Diego Casaravilla (CEO, Fine Research) is sociologist, Master in Research and has been conducting international market research for over 25 years.

Speaker in several conferences, has been part of the Program Committee of ESOMAR Latin American conference in 2018, and has been appointed as Program Committee Chair in its 2019 edition. Has published several articles in leading MR magazines and sites, as well as run workshops and trainings on industry forums.

He founded and continues to manage Fine Research, a LatAm healthcare panel and data collection agency with its own offices in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, and Chile.

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