The healthcare industry is in the midst of change, full of positive disruption and rapid innovation that is driven primarily by the adoption of technology, ideas and techniques from other industries.
New philosophies are changing not just our ambitions for healthcare, but the way healthcare is delivered, with a more holistic and less invasive approach taking centre stage. New products are harnessing technology and communication to enable more personalised treatment and produce more accurate solutions.
So, what are the key trends and philosophies driving this new era of healthcare forward?
Striving for moonshots
In the near past, big investments in healthcare innovation have centred on improving what exists, rather than coming up with something new, largely because doing something really new carries more risk – not ideal when your company needs to guarantee shareholder returns.
However, politics in the US have highlighted a growing shift in focus towards ‘moonshots’, meaning triumphs that will completely revolutionise treatment, rather than dabbling round the edges. This new framework for achievement was crystallised in US political discussion when Obama spoke on curing cancer in his State of the Union address.
Another shift in philosophy can be seen in the industry’s move towards a more holistic approach to healthcare delivery. The aim is increasingly to prevent and restore, rather than cure and replace, and this comprehensive philosophy focuses treatment around the individual rather than the illness.
Traditionally, healthcare processes dealt in ‘incidents’ instead of looking at the long-term treatment and recovery process. However, a change in approach is increasingly necessary as the dominant type of disease has shifted from transmutable to inheritable or lifestyle-related chronic conditions. This calls for a different approach as it becomes a case of ‘manage’, rather than ‘cure’.
This holistic approach is changing the mindset behind treatment, and we’re already seeing this shift filter through to medical payment systems. For example, the growing trend for healthcare payers such as insurers to pay for treatment as a bundled budget for each patient rather than an itemised list of hospital costs.
Reducing invasive techniques
The philosophies underlying transformative health increasingly recognise that the human body is an amazing machine and it’s therefore more effective to try and restore the body rather than replace parts of it. Consequently, we’re seeing a rise in less drastic medical interventions, such as regenerative cell therapies and the use of dissolving heart scaffolds rather of metal ones. This overriding drive for treatments to be less invasive is particularly being applied to surgery, where the trend is to be less about going in and cutting up and more about interfering as little as possible. This is reflected in keyhole surgery, for example, diabetes monitoring machines with pain-free sensors and cataract lenses designed to go through microscopic incisions.
Ultimately, the purpose of transformative health is to change our lives for the better. That’s why the companies driving this change are our heroes. They are driven by the desire to make a real difference to human lives, have the audacity to ask “why can’t we do things better?” and the confidence to bring in new ways of thinking, often from beyond the sector. For examples of how we’ve helped companies such as these, see our latest work.
Up next, in the third of this series, we’ll look at the types of new products both emerging from and driving transformative health.
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