UK: A Bold Vision For Healthcare And Life Sciences In 2020

Last Updated: 23 November 2014
Article by Karen Taylor

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

On Monday 17 November 2014 we launched our latest report, Healthcare and Life Sciences Predictions 2020, at the FT Global Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology Conference 2014 in London. This report is markedly different to our usual reports which are typically evidenced based with deep dives into specific issues. Instead, in this forward look, we provide a deliberately challenging view of what the industry might look like in 2020. The report is based on insights drawn from primary research, desk research and our day to day interactions with clients and key stakeholders across the sector, and utilises the breadth and depth of our experience across our global network. Two cross-cutting themes link the ten predictions, the revolutionary potential for digital technology and the evolutionary influence of patient power.

By focussing on 2020 we believe it is close enough to seem relevant and far enough away to enable us to paint a provocative and compelling picture of the way patients, healthcare professionals and life sciences' organisations might behave in this new world. It is unashamedly optimistic and intended as a way to stimulate discussion and debate.

At the outset of the research project we ran a series of workshops to engage relevant staff groups across the Deloitte healthcare and life sciences network, including our US Center for Health Solutions in Washington and our Business Research team in Hyderabad. The aim was to identify the key trends and challenges of today and what 2020 might look like if these trends were to continue. The results of these workshops were then shared across our wider global network to achieve a consensus on the key developments and challenges that need to be overcome today to maximise the opportunities for tomorrow. These challenges include the:

  • large scale demographic and social big picture changes over the past five years which are likely to continue and have a significant influence on demand for and supply of services
  • ongoing impact of the financial crises and sustainability of healthcare funding which will continue to resonate across the world, requiring new models of funding and financing for healthcare 
  • advancements in understanding of science, genomics, nanotechnology and diagnostics which will change, fundamentally, our ability to improve health outcomes
  • the rise of the knowledgeable consumer and increased expectations of the customer experience which is transforming patient and consumer expectations 
  • the availability of huge amounts of information on the internet and in social media groups, including rating websites that is reducing geographical boundaries and increasing the knowledge and expectations of the public 
  • big data, real world evidence, innovation and technology which are increasing exponentially and fast becoming an essential element in assisting staff to work differently while improving the quality and efficiency of service delivery. Notwithstanding the fact that health technology innovation is outpacing adoption, in many countries.

Given that most of these challenges are on the radar of many of our stakeholders our report does not focus on them explicitly, instead we use these challenges as a springboard to identify the main trends and ten predictions that resonated most. We envisage the 2020 world, the constraints that will have been conquered and how patients, healthcare and life sciences professionals might behave in the new world. We also commissioned a cartoonist to illustrate theses 'visions'.

To achieve our vision for healthcare we suggest that the traditional professional silos will have been overcome and new types of staff will have emerged; that the current, fragmented, healthcare delivery models will be replaced by a network of specialist treatment centres and integrated, accountable care type organisations with new players and approaches delivering care closer to home. For life sciences companies the future is characterised by new models of partnership working, involving collaboration and co-operation both within and between pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical technology companies, including networked research and development functions and trans-global supply chain networks. Healthcare organisations in partnership with industry will be deploying new and more targeted approaches to the management of population health, prevention and treatment regimes.

The dominant feature of 2020 is the pervasiveness of data and information. Mobile health apps, telemedicine, remote monitoring and ingestible sensors generate rich data streams, allowing clinicians and citizens to track every heartbeat, sneeze or symptom in real time. Bioinformatics and analytics allow for personalised risk assessments and tailor-made medicine. Breakthroughs in robotics, 3D printing and stem-cell research make surgical procedures safer and improve outcomes. Indeed, advances in digital technology underpin all aspects of the way we operate in 2020 - from the way that patients receive and digest information about their health, to the way that research and development is undertaken and healthcare and industry is regulated.

All of the above, and other insights and ideas, were discussed and debated at the FT conference. While the predictions appeared to resonate with the participants other ideas emerged confirming what we envisaged at the outset, that the predictions in this report are simply a way of encouraging dialogue, discussion and debate to help people to think differently about the future potential for healthcare and life sciences. The report was derived though iteration and further iteration will inevitably lead to refinements in the current predictions and new predictions on other issues. Over the next few weeks I plan to explore some of the 2020 predictions in more detail; I would also welcome views and ideas to help refine the current predictions and develop others.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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