In 2014 we launched our first predictions report - Healthcare and life sciences predictions 2020: A bold future? It provided an intentionally positive and provocative view of what the world might look like in 2020. Since then the pace and scale of innovation has meant that some of these predictions are already a reality, while some are still some way off; yet others may never happen. Moreover, in the intervening years, the life sciences and health care industries are waking up to the fact that new science, automation and robotics will have a significant impact on  the future of work. Last week we launched our newest predictions report - ‘The future awakens: Life Sciences and health care predictions 2022’. This week’s blog provides an overview of our six predictions and an example of the evidence today that enables us to say with some confidence what tomorrow might look like.

Six predictions for 2022 - both evolutionary and revolutionary

1. The quantified self is alive and well: The genome generation is more informed and engaged in managing their own health.

In 2022, individuals are better informed about their genetic profile, the diseases they have or might develop, and the effectiveness of health interventions. They are more engaged in improving their own health, and their expectations of health care for themselves and their loved ones are high. Patients are true consumers; they understand they have options and use information and data about themselves and providers to get the best treatment at a time, place and cost convenient to them. The adoption of technology is keeping people connected and active and helping to reduce the cost of health care.For example, in 2017 biometric data and disease signs are wirelessly sent and monitored by doctors and patients via Bluetooth technology. In 2017 nearly two-thirds of smartphones shipped worldwide will feature biometric capability, and by 2019, all smartphones worldwide will ship with biometric technology embedded in them.

2. The culture in health care is transformed by digital technologies: Smart health care is delivering more cost-effective patient-centred care

By 2022, patients with complex and acute inpatient needs, are treated in ‘smart’ digitally-enabled hospitals. Clinical roles have been optimised and staff are using cognitive technologies to deliver more seamless, integrated care, designed around patient needs. Providers have established a data-driven, real-time understanding of patient flows and acuity to inform workforce planning, and the digital hospital is leveraging technologies to optimise care delivery, patient experience, staff deployment and the management of back office services – reducing costs and improving outcomes.Already in 2017, population health management (PHM) is being implemented in several high-income countries, with the objective of reducing health care costs by decreasing the burden of chronic diseases and increasing support for preventive health care. Indeed, the market for PHM software and services is projected to grow to $34 billion in 2020, up from $14 billion in 2016 (a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25 per cent).

3. The life sciences industry is industrialised: Advanced cognitive technologies have improved the productivity, speed and compliance of core processes

In 2022, pharma uses a lean operating model to generate funding for R&D and deliver more cost-effective medical innovations. The ’industrialisation’ of pharma has led to predictable productivity increases across functions and geographies. Companies have moved through three phases of evolution – first codifying and standardising processes, then automating them, and now deploying artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to increase the pace and productivity still further. This step change improvement in productivity has improved compliance materially and enhanced predictability of core processes.Already in 2017, some medical devices are ‘made to order’ based on specific patient geometry, using technologies such as additive manufacturing (3D printing), which has resulted in improved outcomes. The US global personalised medicine market is forecast to reach $2.4 trillion through 2022 at a CAGR of 11.8 percent—more than double the projected 5.2 percent annual growth for the overall health care sector.

4. Data is the new health care currency: Artificial intelligence and real-world evidence are unlocking value in health data

In 2022, health care data is a national infrastructure priority and critical business asset attracting significant funding. Real-world data is providing the information needed to enable researchers to develop more precision medicine and clinicians to predict patients’ response to treatments. Clinical guidelines and experiences have been turned into computer algorithms to support clinicians and payers to find the best treatments. Pharma companies use data to develop better treatments, launch them faster and price them according to improvements in health outcomes.For example, in 2017, the Internet of Things is a reality, creating vast amounts of data, faster and more detailed than ever before (the world’s data volume is expected to grow by 40 per cent a year). AI systems are now being deployed to help pharmaceutical companies prevent drug–drug interactions and help clinicians interpret diagnostics. 

5. The future of medicine is here and now: Exponential advances in life-extending and precision therapies are improving outcomes

By 2022, insights from human genetics, precision and personalised medicine have transformed health care, bringing value through innovative biotechnology and requiring the health system to move away from looking at the average patient to looking at the individual patient. AI has revolutionised health care through mining medical records, designing treatment plans, speeding up medical imaging and drug creation. Outcome-based payment strategies are common for treatments where patient populations and endpoints are well defined.For example, Deloitte’s 2017 benchmarking study, Getting real with real-world evidence (RWE), found that many biopharma companies are starting to invest in RWE capabilities and are exploring a number of use cases.  The results of the survey indicated that 54 per cent of respondents have a project underway to develop and/or significantly improve this capability; with 33 per cent saying a RWE capability currently exists.

6. New entrants are disrupting health care: The boundaries between stakeholders have become increasingly blurred

In 2022, the health care landscape has changed significantly with non-traditional health care players using their brand, engineering expertise and knowledge of customers to disrupt the health care landscape. These new entrants have partnered with traditional providers to deliver a more customer-focussed experience of health care.  Many companies have realised that only by working together can they succeed, requiring new skills, behaviours and standards to be adopted in each organisation with more porous boundaries, especially around data sharing.For example, during 2016, the FDA cleared 36 smart devices, with connected blood glucose monitors and devices incorporating heart rate sensors dominating the list. The increase in clearance of mobile and wearable devices continued in 2017, of particular note was the FDA clearing 23andMe’s to sell its direct-to-consumer genetic test kits. 


Our predictions look to a world five years from now where countries are: benefiting from new information and insights about health care; understanding what works and what doesn’t; and comprehending how new innovation, collaboration and automation can improve the cost effectiveness of service delivery. Each of our six predictions shares three key enablers that are critical to the realisation of the prediction and will impact the pace of change:

  • wide scale adoption of new digital and cognitive health technologies
  • recruitment and retention of new skills and talent
  • a new approach to regulation.

As 2017 draws to a close, the future of health is more challenging and the possibilities more exciting than ever before. The need for strategies and judgement to shape our health – whether as a health care provider, life sciences company, clinician or patient – is also higher than ever. Our six predictions are once again an optimistic view of the future, although we recognise that many in our industry are sceptical about the constraints and, therefore, the pace of change. We contend that being optimistic is necessary if we are to respond effectively to the health challenges from a growing and ageing population and the tidal wave of chronic diseases that we face. 


Karen Taylor - Director, UK Centre for Health Solutions

Karen is the Research Director of the Centre for Health Solutions. She supports the Healthcare and Life Sciences practice by driving independent and objective business research and analysis into key industry challenges and associated solutions; generating evidence based insights and points of view on issues from pharmaceuticals and technology innovation to healthcare management and reform.

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