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Innovation

Health is the key to prosperity, and we all have a part to play

Published 18 March 2021 in Innovation • 4 min read

In the post pandemic world, keeping society fit and healthy will be the responsibility of every business sector, but even more important will be the handling of sensitive personal data, writes Dr. Stephan Sigrist.

One thing the Corona crisis has shown very clearly is that health is the foundation for economic growth and societal stability. In dealing with the pandemic, every area of life, all companies and administrations are affected.

Not only through the consequences of the lockdowns but also through the products and services that affect individual and public health, from food to real estate to transport. All industries are now part of the healthcare system.

Using qualitative modelling to look ahead, the relevance of ubiquitous health will increase even further, as COVID-19 is likely to remain, despite global vaccination, and there is a risk that other viral threats will emerge in the near future. This adds another element to the already significant complexity of major health risks in society. Lifestyle-related diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular problems are wellknown, but there are new risks associated with the massive use of digital devices which can lead to an increase in mental disorders and a form of “digital obesity”. In addition, the growing possibilities of diagnostics mean more pre-existing conditions will be detected early, leading to a growing number of people being diagnosed with a precondition.

As a consequence, every decision we take will influence our health

All industries will be directly or indirectly related to health: from the real estate and construction sector exploring the concept of “healthy architecture” to automotive companies designing car seats to prevent back pain and financial services providers exploring the connection between wealth and health.

This aggregation will require new solutions beyond traditional medical therapies. Behavioral changes will be necessary in the battle against these “slow pandemics” which could have an impact on public health and economic productivity much more severe than the current crisis.

These are major challenges, but they also offer opportunities in a growing market. But where to start? Currently, we think it necessary to identify future patient needs as a basis for finding innovative solutions.

That won’t be enough, however, because there are also societal needs which must be addressed. This is important because in some cases there are conflicting interests between individual needs and societal ones: from a patient perspective, access to the best possible and personalized therapies is an understandable desire, but from a public perspective, affordability of these services for all is more important. Another tension is likely to be the sharing of individual health information to enable contact tracing and the protection of others, as data will be the basis for future health care.

Managing the exponentially growing volume of data will be critical.

The solution must be holistically orchestrated, spanning from prevention to patient care to palliative care. Furthermore, it will need to focus on the entire population: from young people with unhealthy digital lifestyles to an aging population with more chronic and degenerative conditions. This will be key to 21st century health and life care.

There needs to be a holistic information architecture that enables patients, healthcare consumers, and professionals to reduce complexity and quickly access the right experts or solutions. Also essential is a shift from complicated medical terms for therapies and healthcare services to language suitable for everyday use.

For a data-based healthcare system, there is no way around the definition of clear and binding ethical guidelines that define how healthcare data should be handled; especially if the quantification of everyday activities is to become part of health care.

Authors

Doctor Ryan Sigrist - I by IMD Portrait

Dr. Stephan Sigrist

Dr. Stephan Sigrist is the Founder of WIRE, a think tank and innovation agency that curates the shaping of the future at the interface between science, business and design. The foundation is a systematic early recognition of trends and their translation into strategies for private and public organisations. As an interdisciplinary platform, the expertise focuses on the consequences of the digital transformation and the linking of market and societal innovation in various sectors, ranging from health and financial services to real estate and media. www.thewire.ch

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