Notes on the Future of Health Care in America: 2020-2050

The health care industry will continue to grow in importance, both in the U.S. and around the world. New technologies, in particular, will play a key role in dramatically changing the practice of medicine and improving people's health. In addition to the National Health Information Network (NHIN) in the U.S., global health information exchange networks will be put in place by 2040 to support the continued growth of the global health care industry and to fight global pandemics.

Do we have a long range national plan and strategy to position the U.S. to be a major player in this arena? What should it be?  (I was surprised at the scarcity in the number of documents I could find substantively discussing long range health care plans and strategies for America)

The following are excerpts from various strategic health care plans and reports on the future of health care in America produced by a number of public and private organization:

  • Almost 100 percent of Americans will have health coverage of some sort by 2020. About half of the the population will be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Veterans Health and/or the Military Health systems. Most of the remaining population will purchase subsidized coverage through the new state health insurance exchanges.
  • The emphasis in health care will shift to disease prevention and health promotion, and reinvigorating the public health system over the next several decades.
  • The emphasis on ambulatory care and long term geriatric care in the U.S. will continue to grow over the next several decades.
  • There will be a continuing shift to personalized health care. By 2020, patients will have become empowered, involved participants and will start to better manage their own health care. As a result, patient adherence to prescribed treatments will improve.
  • By 2020, the process of health care will be substantially digitized and electronically enabled. Managed care will switch from a restrictive gatekeeper approach to one of highly automated care management.
  • Technology will enable managed care to better coordinate treatments in a more cost-effective way.
  • The most pervasive change in the new millennium will be how technology empowers patients to take control of their healthcare. Internet-informed patients will become partners in the promotion of their health in partnership with their health care providers.
  • The growing acquisition and use of electronic health records (EHR), personal health records (PHR), health information exchange (HIE) networks and other health information technologies will have a tremendous effect on the business of health care and people's health.
  • EHR systems connected to HIE networks will result in quicker notice from hospital emergency departments to patients’ primary care physicians.
  • Information technology will help patients to access the health care system on a "7x24" basis, at their convenience.
  • There will be major advances in biotechnology, nanotechnology, diagnostics, information technology, stem cell treatments, vaccines, and organ transplants by 2020.
  • By 2020, telemedicine will play a much bigger role in health care. New physician-to-physician and physician-to-patient communications and health care processes will have developed and been accepted.
  • By 2020, medical decisions will be based on access to better data and health information resources. Technology will improve clinical decision-making and quality of care.
  • New wearable body sensors that capture continuous physiological data streams during daily routines--as opposed to discrete data captured at isolated moments in time--will provide clinicians with greater context and enable them to diagnose based on robust evidence.
  • Medical advances will include: teeth regeneration; cures for hearing loss; stem cell R&D; major advances in genomics and preventive care; use of implantable medical devices and nanobots; and much more.
  • Complete organ replacements grown from stem cells will become possible in the 2020-2030 timeframe leading to growth of a major new bio-industry. Regenerative medicine will become a reality.
  • Recent breakthroughs in remote surgery, gene manipulation, cloning, and molecularization of microchips have opened a world of untold possibilities.
  • 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 -- up about 50 percent from 2000, according to a RAND Corporation study.
  • Home health care and self care will grow. Diabetics are already measuring their blood sugar continuously; other continuous sensors, such as Corventis "smart bandages," which measure seven vital signals, including heart rhythms, are en route.
  • By 2020 scientists may even be able to customize drugs for their patients based on their genetic make-up.
  • Technology and access to large 'open data' resources will help providers better coordinate healthcare and more appropriate solutions that yield consistently better outcomes.
  • 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 transferred to 'open' public health data repositories via HIE networks will result in improved medical research.
  • More robust public health 'open' data repositories will result in improvements in monitoring public health, responding to potential threats (e.g. pandemics), etc.

* For more information on a Vision for America through 2050, visit

Let us know about any other studies freely available on the web about the future of health care in America. Do you have notes to add to this blog based on reliable sources or information?