Health and wellbeing are central to the human experience. Whoever you are, wherever you live, being and feeling healthy and well is a universal aspiration. Yet there are many ways to think about it.
Right now, humanity is undergoing tremendous change and stress. On the one hand are life-enhancing breakthroughs in science and technology. On the other are destabilizing factors, such as the global pandemic and persistent inequities, along with the disruption that often accompanies new technologies. Many of us are left reevaluating existing approaches to health. What are the right goals? The most appropriate business models? The best incentives? The most effective ways to gain organizational and community support?
A more human-empowered, knowledge-driven and technology-enabled approach is possible. A redefined concept of health and wellbeing focuses on prevention, better outcomes, lower costs, and more seamless, less fragmented experiences for those involved. Experiences where individuals are supported by a shared ecosystem that spans governments, institutions, businesses and organizations. Central to the idea is the definition of health as a state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease or illness.
There are some key challenges to implementing a new, more equitable healthcare model. One challenge is knowledge-based. Healthcare information now encompasses a vast array of sources, and we must be discerning as to which information is reliable. Wellbeing of the future relies on a new foundation of long-term commitment to sharing trustworthy, accessible, and ready-to-use knowledge.
Another challenge is broadening the scope of healthcare from treatment to the preservation of good health. Making this shift requires a significant overhaul in the design of our existing health systems, which remain aimed at treatment once someone is already ill.
Further issues surrounding data also pose difficulties. Currently, health data is siloed in disaggregated systems. Emerging technologies are set to help, by supporting the continuous use of data across care and everyday settings. Yet this transition needs to be carefully managed. If data is to be shared, it must be done safely and securely to protect individuals’ privacy.
The future of health and wellbeing is human-centric. That means focusing not on transactions but people: from the consumer and patient on the demand side to the caregiver and healthcare provider on the supply side, encompassing every touchpoint across the journey. In this future, individuals hold the key to their unique path to health, supported by a holistic and nourishing ecosystem that fosters wellbeing.
To realize this vision across all life stages, individuals must take responsibility for their health and wellbeing, making a life-long commitment to a continuous effort. However, the individual needs support and guidance. Implementing the blueprint requires the orchestration of diverse systems, shared values and vibrant communities. All of society’s stakeholders must interact, collaborate, and provide support if we are going to make a change.
On the individual level, each person needs to do more than simply hope for a healthy life. It takes concrete action to make health and wellbeing an integral part of one’s lifestyle. Advances in science and technology are making these steps more achievable. The payoff is more time spent being healthy and happy and less time spent healing or in an assisted condition.
On a second level, we need robust, human-friendly systems. To support individuals and their healthier lifestyles, these systems should be blended and united, rather than siloed and fragmented. They should look beyond the cure to understand the cause. In so doing, they should share and embody core ethical values that strengthen the community and individuals they serve.
The third sphere of action involves communities. Everyone belongs to several, all of which will play a role in accelerating the shift towards human-centric health and wellbeing. As we propose structural changes, their support is vital. These changes will engage families, work teams, neighborhoods, and other physical and virtual social connections.
PODCAST: Healthcare for Whom?
The COVID-19 pandemic highlights an ever-present truth: individuals do not experience healthcare equally. Lisa Esch, senior vice president at NTT DATA Services, and Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, founder and CEO of Grapevine Health, highlight the technology-driven solutions that will enable equitable healthcare access for all.
We can look to a future of healthcare in which maintaining and promoting people’s general wellbeing is a more prominent aim for society. Through a concerted and collaborative effort that includes the right application of technology, we can continue to advance and build on the collective learnings from the pandemic to evolve our approach to health and wellbeing.
The roadmap to a healthier future is built on four stages that help overcome current challenges, while leveraging digital transformation and innovative technology to catalyze and enable change:
“The future of healthcare is focusing on what’s important to patients and their health and wellbeing journey. This requires building trust and transparency across the entire ecosystem through technology-enabled, proactive collaboration”