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Collecting the Many Futures of Global Health Care

by Fred Fortin

In my last post, I ran through a number of predictions about the future of U.S. health care distilled from the increasing panoply of reports crossing my desk (or my computer screen!). In looking through similar reports on the future of global health care it occurred to me put out an invitation to World Health Care Blog readers to share your thoughts — or those of others you respect — on the future of global health care. What condition will the world’s health be in by the end of the next decade and what changes to health care delivery will there be ? Let’s see if our little exercise in the web’s power to aggregate collective intelligence can flush out some interesting thinking.

To help things along, here’s a few observations on the future of global health gleaned from various sources.

  • Health spending for OECD countries (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) will more than triple to $10 trillion by 2020. (PWC)
  • Half the people that smoke today -that is about 650 million people- will eventually be killed by tobacco. (WHO)
  • If current trends continue, average levels of body mass index are projected to increase in almost all countries. By 2015, it is estimated that over 1.5 billion people will be overweight. (IBM/WHO)
  • Over the next 10 years, the global incidence of chronic disease is predicted to increase by 17 percent, further fueling the global burden of disease. (IBM/WHO)
  • Asia is poised to be the largest pharmaceutical consumer and pharmaceutical producer in the world. (PWC)
  • Fueled by the unrelenting pressures of cost, quality, and access, we believe the first two decades of the 21st century are the era in which health care systems around the globe will be driven into crisis. . . the growth in health care demand is increasing more rapidly than the willingness and, more ominously, the ability to pay for it. . . health care systems will likely “hit the wall”– be unable to continue on the current path – and then, require immediate and major forced restructuring. (IBM)
  • Health care, which has remained largely regional and local to date, has not escaped globalization unscathed. The financial pressure arising from globalization is having the greatest and most obvious impact on health care systems. . . Globalization is . . . laying the foundation for health care without borders. (IBM)
  • We believe these five inhibitors – financial constraints, societal expectations and norms, misaligned incentives, short-term thinking, and the proliferation of information – are and will continue to create resistance to change in health care systems throughout the world. Each will have to be overcome in the process of mapping and navigating a new, sustainable health care path. (IBM)
  • Medical diplomacy . . .the exportation of ideas, personnel, and equipment from the U.S. to developing countries as a distinct medical
    industry. . . is emerging as a different and more positive approach to foreign policy than the one the United States has today . . . (Deloite)


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