Over the next 20 years medical science is likely to transform they way healthcare is provided, which will have ramifications for workplace insurance products across the globe.
This was the conclusion of a new ‘futurology’ report sponsored by Allianz Care, to help them prepare for the longer-term needs of their customers.
The company says this report indicates that in future workplace health products are likely to be far more personalised in nature, and less about insurance for unexpected medical conditions, but more about providing a fund to access technological support and care solutions.
The report, Future Health Care and Wellbeing identified five key areas that will change the way healthcare is provided between now and 2040.
- more personalised medicine — based on individual DNA analysis, which will be available from birth
- stem cell medicine to grow and repaid tissues and organs
- nano-scale medicines to allow drug delivery at sub-microscopic levels
- gene therapy and gene-editing, which will see human DNA altered to improve health
- digital health — where artificial intelligence and digital technology is used to diagnose and monitor patient health.
As a result of these changes the report predicts a number of changes occurring in the years ahead. Much of these will be based on better DNA profiling techniques, with DNA sequencing being used an accurate predictor of future health.
Digital technology will also come to the fore. Within workplace healthcare products the concept of an annual check-up, to detect any looming problems, will be replaced with a continuous stream of real-life real-time information from sensors on wearable tech, clothing and eventually placed within our bodies.
The report says that analysis of this various data should help develop better drugs and treatments. It also predicts that the smartphone will replace the family doctor as the primary point of healthcare advice.
A new field of ‘predictive medical data mining’ will provide early warnings of physiological trouble ahead or indications of disease as it develops.
It also suggests that pressure on healthcare staff could be relieved by the use of AI ‘chatbots’ equipped with deep learning algorithms to triage patients and deal with non-emergency cases.
Allianz Care chief marketing officer Paula Covey says: “This report allows us to anticipate the benefits as well as the potential challenges of this new healthcare environment, from a customer perspective.
“We want to be ready for this new era, when it comes to leveraging the tools available to improve customers’ health and giving them the right kinds of support.
“But it is clear that in the future our business model will need to change. Currently, one of the primary purposes of insurance is that you’re covered for the unexpected. But in the future, health issues will be identified, and often addressed at birth.
“Health will no longer be an unknown quantity. Insurance premiums, which used to pay for health events that ‘might happen’, may evolve into a fund which is there to pay for treatment following unexpected accidents, and to access the latest technology to treat conditions which can’t be dealt with at birth.
“Health plans will most likely be completely tailored to each person. Plus, as the number of deaths due to unexpected or incurable illnesses decreases, populations grow and people live longer, the sheer number of people in the world will bring its own challenges in terms of making sure that everyone can get prompt access to care. This is where digital tools, robotics and artificial intelligence can really help.
“There will also be a significant shift with regards to where health information sits. Currently it’s primarily with doctors and hospitals. In the future, people will have much greater access to their own health data via in-body/device technology.
“We believe that future customers will need support interpreting that information and navigating the international healthcare system. They’ll also want data to back up decisions about which consultants they see and where to locate them.
“Our role will be to use our expertise and global network to make that process as easy as possible, while giving them access to the right care at the best rates.”