The EHFG Health Futures Project – Three Visions For Europe

One of our anniversary projects this year was a scenario building process that has produced three different visions of what the future of health might look like in 2037.

Health Futures Workshop at EHFG 2017 © framez. / EHFG

We would like to use this opportunity to introduce those of you who have not been able to attend the conference two weeks ago to our scenarios. It is important to remember that they are qualitative in nature, and neither predictions nor recommendations. The future might turn out to be a mix of all three, or something completely different.

In the first scenario, “The future is local”, communities and devolved decision-making take centre stage. Health is integrated into the broader notion of life satisfaction, resulting in changed individual attitudes, business and policy environments, and a holistic approach to wellbeing and disease.
States have a strong supervisory function, set health targets for local communities and restrict or ban unhealthy products. While the concept of fairness guides public discourse and leads to the introduction of a guaranteed basic income, the reduced emphasis on economic growth results in limited choice of treatment and creates new barriers to access.

The second scenario, “Your health, your responsibility” sets a stark contrast to this, by putting a heavy emphasis on individual responsibilities for monitoring and improving health. The state is to equip each person with the resources to assess health information and weigh alternative choices. Another focus of government action is incentivising healthy and demonising unhealthy behaviours. With digital and health literacy being this crucial, decision-makers struggle to provide an equal starting point for all. Some individuals feel overwhelmed by what is expected of them, others discriminated against for what they do not want to or cannot perform.

Young Forum Gastein Panel EHFG 2017 © framez. / EHFG

In the third scenario, technology is expected to deliver the solution to nearly any problem. Smart environments and virtual reality shape interactions between individuals and institutions. In “Technology delivers” Big Data is a mighty tool, and the notion of privacy is considered negligible – although data breeches are eroding trust in some sectors of society. Governments take a proactive role in shaping innovation and markets, and while prevention is still a part of health policy efforts, the importance of curative medicine is increasing. The system becomes more expensive and requires the setup of national solidarity funds to complement traditional health insurance.

Online you can find a full report of the project as well as a summary infographic depicting the key features of each scenario.

Published in GI-Mail 10/2017 (English edition). Sign up for GI-Mail here.  

Tip: More up to date educational events can be found online in the Education Database »medicine & health«.

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