The Future of Healthcare in 2040

Healthcare is one of the most important subject for Asians today. As the average age across the continent increases, so too does the need and the financial costs of providing quality healthcare. So what is the future of healthcare? Well one report says it’ll be made better through smart tech and medical advancements.

By 2040, specialist surgeons will use remote robots to operate on patients in different continents; babies will have their DNA sequenced before they are even born; and patients will be able to generate new blood inside their own bodies without the need for a blood donor. These are just some of the findings of a new report commissioned by Allianz Partners, to help them prepare for the longer-term needs of their customers. The report looks at how medical science and healthcare delivery will be transformed globally in the next 20 years.

‘Future Health, Care and Wellbeing’ was recently launched as part of ‘The World in 2040’ futurology series. Authored by internationally renowned futurologist, Ray Hammond, it presents likely future developments and trends in healthcare between now and 2040.

Commenting on what healthcare will look like in 2040, Ray Hammond said: “Healthcare is one of the few arenas in which every one of us has a stake. The next 20 years will witness profound change in healthcare, all the more notable given that medical science and healthcare delivery tend to be conservative, slow-moving sectors that are highly resistant to change. The annual global market is currently estimated to be worth around $8.1 trillion, with annual global spending on healthcare forecast to rise to $18.28 trillion by 2040. With that in mind, we have a collective responsibility to ourselves and to the next generation to determine what that change will look like and the impact it will have on all of us.”

Among the report’s key healthcare predictions for 2040 are:

  • Health information from traditional annual physical check-ups and other tests previously only available in a surgery or lab will be replaced by data from sensors on/around our ‘smart’ bodies (including in our clothing and, eventually, skin and blood). This will be immediately accessible to us, in real time
  • A new field of ‘predictive medical data mining’ will provide early warnings of physiological trouble ahead or indications of disease as it develops. Physicians will have 24/7 real-time reports of their patients’ wellbeing and will be alerted to any change in patients’ data that requires urgent attention
  • Stem-cell medicine will be a powerful tool in mainstream medicine. For example, replacement human organs for transplant will be grown on demand from stem cells in the lab, with minimal risk of rejection
  • Nano-medicine (in its infancy in 2019) may eventually outperform all other branches of medical science, as scientists create ‘designer drugs’ that are far more powerful than today’s drugs
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) ‘chatbots’ equipped with deep learning algorithms could relieve emergency room personnel of tending to large numbers of walk-in patients with non-emergencies (e.g. sore throats, UTIs)

Paula Covey, Chief Marketing Officer Health, at Allianz Partners, explains the far-reaching implications, “There will also be a significant shift with regards to where health information sits. Currently it’s primarily with doctors and hospitals. In the future, people will have much greater access to their own health data via in-body/device technology. We believe that future customers will need support interpreting that information and navigating the international healthcare system. They’ll also want data to back up decisions about which consultants they see and where to locate them.”

Clearly there’s a brave new world ahead for the future of healthcare.