Our ageing populations mean that health needs are changing

There are four drivers that will shape the future of healthcare: demographics, funding, technology, and consumerism. 

Our ageing populations mean that health needs are changing with more people living longer with chronic medical conditions. Increased costs present a financial challenge, as payers are unable to sustain historical healthcare growth levels. At the same time, new treatments, new technologies, and big data are changing ways of delivering care, while there are increasing patient expectations and drive to ensure more consistently high quality care at a good value.

Healthcare expenditure varies by country but broadly correlates with GDP. Healthcare expenditure is expected to continue to rise over the next few decades. Like most global healthcare systems, US and European healthcare are facing a growing funding gap. If healthcare costs continue on today’s trajectory in a worsening fiscal context, then some countries could face financing gaps of 3-5% of GDP by 2025.

This is forcing disruption and change across the sector. We are already seeing transactional and process changes, such as the growing adoption of tele-health for outpatient clinics and GP consultations.

In the medium term we expect to see more patient empowerment, with patients moving to self-service and monitoring, with the aid of credible sources of information. We expect primary care doctors to take on more of the secondary care functions as care shifts into community and home. We also expect a cultural shift as doctors are encouraged to adopt a mindset of continuous improvement, and proactively leverage technology and data.

And in the future, technology and healthcare will be more inextricably linked. Our increasing ability to process deep stacks of genomic information allow us to know more about the science behind a disease, thus advancing the development of therapies for specific individuals. And automation, robotics, and apps to stay connected will continue to evolve how we treat and care for our ageing population.

Meghan FitzGerald

Managing Partner L1 Health