« Friday Five: Top 5 healthcare business news items from the MCOL Weekend edition | Main | Friday Five: Top 5 healthcare business news items from the MCOL Weekend edition »

Taking the Healthcare Time Machine to 2040 – Two Separate Peeks into the Future

by Clive Riddle, October 4, 2019

Several days ago, I – like numerous others – received a mysterious email from Robert Pearl, MD informing us that “It’s 2040 and the U.S. health system is the best in the world.” He asks, “How did it happen?” and informs us “that question is more difficult to answer than what happened.”

The mystery quickly solved itself, as his new article in Forbes was released that same day: “It’s 2040: How Did American Healthcare Become The Best In The World?” Doctor Pearl quickly explains his thought experiment posed in his email and in the opening of his article: “As far-fetched as this outcome may seem, the purpose of the question is to consider what, specifically, could spark major change in U.S. healthcare. Below are 12 possibilities, each based on the comments and credentials of recent Fixing Healthcare [his podcast] guests.”

So remember – his list derived from his podcast guests isn’t the specific fixes, but rather what movements caused the fixes to happen:


  1. Global Disruption
  2.  Twenty-first Century Tech
  3. The Power Of Moments
  4. Bright Spots
  5. Transparency: "was it because doctors and hospitals were required to disclose their pricing and quality outcome data"?
  6. Healthcare Voting: after "Americans exercised their rights at the polls and demanded change from elected officials?"
  7. Consumerized Care: after "doctors, hospitals and health plans put patients first, resulting in a more consumer-centric and affordable form of healthcare"?
  8. Battling Burnout
  9. Modern Heroes: "was American healthcare saved by a new batch of medical visionaries?"

10.  Social Determinants: "did public health advances in U.S. society lead to better outcomes and greater life expectancy"?

11.  Patient Power: "did patients band together online and use their collective voice to inspire major healthcare changes?"

12.  Internet Reliability: "did sweeping internet regulations help people avail themselves of reliable information and the best medical care possible?"


Now that we’ve considered what might drive healthcare change into 2040, let’s peek into another examination of 2040 done earlier this year by the Deloitte – entitled: Forces of change – The future of health, and opens like this: “The future of health will likely be driven by digital transformation enabled by radically interoperable data and open, secure platforms. Health is likely to revolve around sustaining well-being rather than responding to illness. Twenty years from now, cancer and diabetes could join polio as defeated diseases. We expect prevention and early diagnoses will be central to the future of health.”

We are told that “By 2040 (and perhaps beginning significantly before), streams of health data—together with data from a variety of other relevant sources—will merge to create a multifaceted and highly personalized picture of every consumer’s well-being;” and that “consumers—armed with this highly detailed personal information about their own health—will likely demand that their health information be portable.”


Deloitte says they “anticipate that by 2040 successful companies will identify and compete in one or more of the[se] new business archetypes:


Data and Platforms:

  • ·         Data conveners (data collectors, data connectors, and data securers)
  • ·         Science and insights engines (developers, analytics gurus, insight discoverers)
  • ·         Data and platform infrastructure builders (core platform developers, platform managers and operators)

Well-being and care delivery

  • ·         Health products developer (application developers, inventors/innovators, manufacturers)
  • ·         Consumer-centric health/virtual home and community (virtual health providers and enablers, and wellness coaches)
  • ·         Specialty care operators (world-class health centers, event-specific facilities)
  • ·         Localized health hubs

Care enablement

  • ·         Connectors and intermediaries (enterprise tool developers, supply chain designers and coordinators, delivery service providers)
  • ·         Individualized financiers (N of 1 insurers, catastrophic care insurers, government safety net payers)
  • ·         Regulators (market leaders and innovators, government regulators and policy makers)


So what should we do armed with this glimpse into 2040? Deloitte advises "as stakeholders prepare for the future of health, they should consider the following actions:"

  • ·         Build new businesses
  • ·         Forge partnerships; and
  • ·         Appeal to the newly empowered health consumer


As for me, my primary objective will be to still be alive to see what happens.


Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>