How innovation could transform health care
Innovation is a wonderful phenomenon. It leads to all sorts of astonishing products and services like the internet and the tablet PC. As big an impact these innovations have on our lives, it is in health care that innovation is of existential importance. To be blunt, innovation in health care matters because most of us will have to face a miserable disease at some point in our lives; and all of us will have to face death. If we continue to innovate, then one day in the future people may not need to undergo the distress of cancer, heart disease or Alzheimer’s. Perhaps we even await a future where we transcend the limitations of our physical bodies—as imagined by science fiction authors like Peter F Hamilton and predicted by futurists such as Ray Kurzweil. Today, however, we have to make do with our present health care system—and its challenges and limitations.
Life is short
The challenges are diverse. The most fundamental limitation is the fact that most of us continue to suffer from a number of persistently incurable diseases. Even in the European region, where life expectancy is relatively high, the healthy life expectancy is only 67 years (1). That is just too short given the number of things that most of us would like to do in our lives.
Perhaps most deplorable, however, is the gaping inequality in the world when it comes to health and health care. According to the 2010 statistics of the World Health Organisation, life expectancy in the European region averages 75 years; in the African region it is 53 years (and healthy life expectancy is only 45). In Africa the probability that a child will die under the age of 5 is 142 per 1000 live births; in Europe that number is 14 per 1000 live births. In Africa there are 2 doctors per 10,000 population; in Europe that figure is 33. Notwithstanding the wonders of the digital era, when it comes to health and health care much of the world lives in medieval circumstances.
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Also from the hand of Frank Boermeester of The Fifth Conference this great overview article. (mentioning our REshape Center btw 😉