One of the best ways to try and come up with some reasonably sound predictions about the future of healthcare and health information technology (IT) over the next several decades, is to do a little 'crowd sourcing' – tapping into a wide range of individuals, groups, and sources of information on the web to see what they have to say.
A review of over a hundred articles, interviews and reports written over the past 2-3 years about the future of information technology and healthcare has led to my compilation of the following list of predictions for the next 10-15 years - from 2015 thru 2030 – and beyond. These predictions are broken down into two categories: (1) predictions about the future of health IT, and (2) predictions about the future of healthcare.
2015 - 2030
The following is a list of many of the emerging health information technologies (HIT) and changes in healthcare practices that are predicted to happen over the next 15 years – from 2015 thru 2025.
- The U.S. will remain intensely focused through 2020 on implementing Electronic Health Record (EHR), Personal Health Record (PHR), and Mobile Health (mHealth) systems that will ultimately be integrated via Health Information Exchange (HIE) networks.
- The use of health information technologies (HIT) and 'open' access to healthcare data will contribute significantly to more affordability and improvements in quality of care over the coming decade.
- The vision of putting in place a de facto 1st generation of a National Health Information Network (NHIN) for the U.S. could be largely achieved by 2020.
- Health information technologies (HIT) will help patients to more readily access the healthcare resources and services on a '7x24x365' basis.
- By 2020, new User Interface (UI) solutions will be widely deployed and utilized, e.g. Wearable Systems, Google Glass, next generation Mobile Health (mHealth) and Gaming technologies
- Mobile health (mHealth) technologies are forecasted to reach 1.158 billion users by 2020. Mobile apps running on these devices will prove extremely valuable in helping to prevent and treat a wide range of health conditions.
- Over the next decade, Internet-informed patients will become more active partners in the promotion of their health in partnership with their health care providers.
- By 2025, there will be a wide range of major 'game changing' advances in biotechnology, nanotechnology, diagnostics, health information technologies, stem cell treatments, genomics, human augmentation solutions and much more.
- New wearable body sensors that capture continuous physiological data streams will become widely available for use by 2020. This market will continue to grow substantially through 2025.
- By 2025, medical decisions and treatment will continually improve as they become based on greater access to better data and health information.
- Genomic Information Systems, BioRepositories, & Predictive Medicine modules integrated with EHR Systems will be largely in place by 2025.
- Nanotechnology & Implantable Health IT Systems interfaced to EHR and PHR Systems will become a reality by 2025.
- By 2025, Health Information Exchange (HIE) networks will be interfaced with other those used in other Industries, e.g. Banking, Security, Manufacturing, Pharma, etc.
- Televideo and Home-based TeleHealth solutions interconnecting patients with health care providers will be widely deployed and used by 2025.
- A range of new medical Robotic devices will be interfaced to Health IT (HIT) systems by 2025.
- The movement towards 'open access' to health information and journals will continue to grow and become the accepted norm by 2025.
- The movement to make 'open data' about healthcare available to consumers, researchers, and healthcare providers will also continue to grow over this next decade.
- By 2020, some experts point to a 4000% increase in annual generation of healthcare data.
- Integrative Medicine information and software modules (e.g. acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal medicine) integrated into EHR/PHR systems
- Personal health applications fixed to clothes or beneath the skin sending back constant streams of data to medical centers and providing for real-time alerts or diagnoses;
- Always-on mobile access to social networks and groups focused on a wide range of health and wellness communities.
- Ubiquitous broadband and mobile broadband access will be achieved by 2035
- Increasing use of 'Social Media' in healthcare will also be one of the other major growth areas for the healthcare industry in the coming decade.
- Smart healthcare devices and home automation solutions will offer higher quality healthcare and enable elderly people to stay at home longer.
- The 'Internet of Things', embedding intelligent processors into almost every possible device, will continue to proliferate – especially in a wide range of devices related to health and fitness.
- Google Glass could have a major effect on the daily clinical routine and business practices of clinicians.
- Health informatics is a field where jobs are expected to grow more than 20 percent in the decade between 2010 and 2020.
- Privacy & security of health IT systems and the issue of ownership of personal health data will remain hot topics for many years to come.
- Many new free and 'open access' Health Education & Training technologies and solutions will be a prime area for major innovation and change over the coming decade, e.g. virtual reality, simulation training, etc.
- It is projected that federal government health care expenditures in the U.S. will double over this coming decade.
- Almost 100 percent of Americans will have health coverage of some sort by 2020 from Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Veterans Health, Military Health, Indian Health, and other programs offering some form of subsidized coverage.
- By 2020, health information technology (HIT) systems will enable managed care to move from a restrictive gatekeeper role to better coordinating treatments in a more cost-effective way.
- Home health care and self care will grow dramatically over the coming decade(s).
- By 2020, about one in five health care dollars in the U.S. spent on people ages 50-69 could be consumed by obesity-related medical problems – if major steps are not taken to address this issue.
- By 2020, one in three hospitals across the U.S. will probably close, merge, or reorganize into an entirely different form of health care service provider organization.
- Technology and access to large 'open data' resources will help providers better coordinate healthcare and more appropriate solutions that yield consistently better outcomes.
- EHR systems connected to HIE networks will result in quicker notice from hospital emergency departments to a patient's primary care physician.
- By 2020, technology will result in better measurement of outcomes which in turn will result in improved clinical guidelines and documentation of 'best practices'.
- Large quantities of hard data collected by EHR systems will be automatically transferred to public health data repositories via HIE networks, resulting in improved public health, medical research, and capabilities to responding to potential threats (e.g. pandemics, bioterrorism).
- The emphasis in health care will continue shifting to disease prevention and health promotion.
- There will be a continuing shift to personalized health care through 2025, encouraging patients to become more empowered and intimately involved in managing their own health care.
- The emphasis on ambulatory care and long term geriatric care in the U.S. will continue to grow over the next several decades.
- Using smartphones, millions of Africans now have access to the Internet and the outside world. They are using such technologies to mitigate deep-seated problems such as water borne illness, which have slowed their development.
- Health care spending in China could triple and grow to more than $1 trillion by 2020, as China plans to build 31,000 new hospitals over the coming decade. Major activity along the same lines will also be taking place in India.
- America is facing a looming shortage of medical professionals over the coming decade that will require innovative new solutions to resolve.
- 'Open Access' and 'Open Data' will remain hot topics in the healthcare arena over the next decade with major implications for researchers, publishers, and the creation of many new startup companies.
- Expect increased competition and lower in the healthcare market over the coming decades from multiple sources of innovation – e.g. health information technologies, genomics, health insurance exchanges (HIX), 'open source' health IT solutions, health tourism, regenerative health…
- The field of 'predictive medicine' will emerge and grow as the development of new genomic information systems spread and evolve.
- Regenerative Medicine will begin to advance rapidly. Complete organ replacements grown from stem cells will become possible in the 2020-2030 For example, replacement organs, such as kidneys and livers, should be developed by 2030 and will start to be implanted in humans. Other advances will include teeth regeneration; cures for hearing loss; limb replacement; implanting biomedical devices, nanobots, and so much more.
- Novel techniques such as cloning, stem cell research and germ-line engineering will raise the specter of a new class system, differentiated by those possessing the ability to “enhance themselves and their offspring” versus those who can't do so.
- Military organizations are now experimenting with a wide range of 1st generation human augmentation technologies, including exoskeletons that allow personnel to carry increased loads and perform at a higher level. Think of the possibilities for the disabled, elderly, and many others.
- Owing to the high cost of human augmentation, it probably will probably not begin to be widely available for at least 15-20 years – and only to those who are able to pay for it. Such a situation may lead to a two-tiered society of enhanced and non-enhanced persons. This raises a number of moral, ethical and legal issues.
- Diagnostic and pathogen-detection devices developed over the next decade will be key enabling technologies for disease management and will have the power to transform medicine.
- More readily available genetic testing will hasten disease diagnosis and help physicians better decide on the optimal treatment for each patient.
- The declining cost of diagnostic devices and genetic testing will facilitate the cataloguing of many more individuals’ genetic profiles, leading to a greater understanding of the genetic basis of many diseases.
- By 2020 scientists will start to customize drugs for their patients based on their genetic make-up.
- Synergistic technologies such as computer processing power and big data storage and analysis will be important for managing the huge amounts of data gathered by genome sequencing.
- Combined with advances in robotics, avatars could provide feedback in the form of sensors providing touch and smell as well as aural and visual information to the operator.
- Recent breakthroughs in remote surgery, gene manipulation, cloning, and molecularization of microchips have opened a world of untold possibilities.
- There is a growing realization of the need for more holistic, multidisciplinary and networked global approaches to effectively take on and overcome the challenges we will face in the future.
- Global population is expected to stabilize at over 10 billion people by 2050. Approximately 70% of the world's population will live in cities by 2050. Many developed countries around the world will increasingly confront problems associated with population decline and aging.
- Human overpopulation, will put significant pressure on energy, food, and water resources. Competition for these resources will generate strife in many regions across the globe, especially in South East Asia, Central Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Expect increases in malaria, diarrhea, cholera, TB, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, SARS, influenza, and other communicable diseases… not to mention famine, undernourishment, and starvation.
- A pandemic of highly transmissible disease is expected to occur by 2030. Worst case scenario: Within the U.S., hundreds of millions of Americans could become ill and the death toll could mount into the tens of millions. Outside the U.S., almost a third of the worldwide population could become ill and hundreds of millions could die.
- The field of Regenerative Medicine will continue to grow and advance.
- Human Augmentation spans a wide gamut of technologies, ranging from implants and prosthetics to powered exoskeletons. Human augmentation will enhance our innate human abilities. It could be used to replace missing limbs or correct defective functionality.
- Elderly people could ultimately benefit from powered exoskeletons that assist wearers with simple walking and lifting activities, improving the health and quality of life for aging populations, as well as many disabled individuals.
- Prosthetic limbs have now reached the stage where they offer equivalent or slightly improved functionality to human limbs. Prosthetics will eventually be directly integrated with the user’s body.
- As replacement limb technology advances, people may choose to enhance their physical selves, much as they do with cosmetic surgery today.
- Brain-machine interfaces in the form of brain-implants are demonstrating that directly bridging the gap between brain and machine will become a reality. Neuro-enhancements to humans could provide superior memory recall or speed of thought.
- Neuro-pharmaceuticals will allow people to maintain concentration for longer periods of time or enhance their learning abilities.
- The continued evolution of man's interaction and integration with computers, robotics, and biotechnologies as we move towards that moment of 'Singularity'.
- Unequal access to advances in health, medicine, and biotechnologies will fuel increased tensions and actual conflict between rich and poor in both developed and under developing nations around the world.
- The need for increased international cooperation and collaboration coupled with partnerships between the public and private sectors will be increasingly required to deal with the great challenges ahead.
What other predictions do you have about the future of health IT and healthcare? Share your predictions with us.
Posted November 25, 2013 - 11:20am by Peter Groen