As the healthcare industry depends increasingly on software to drive the change to value-based care from transaction-based compensation, the future of global healthcare is increasingly bound to the technology that will deliver:

  • Patient engagement to create behavior change for health optimization.
  • Integration solutions that will allow stakeholders to share information about populations and individuals across the ecosystem.
  • Cloud-based solutions that will allow services to reach scale without the need for the contemporary care system or health insurance vendor to grow infrastructure.
  • Branded medical services, such as oncology advice engines that allow a regional cancer specialist to deliver a better quality of care because she will have, for example, access to the most advanced protocols for her patients via smart software powered by companies such as IBM but with the built-in expertise of our great medical centers such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
  • The Rise of consumer health repositories will work against info sharing in the eco-system – crossing the divide between protected data owned by covered entities, under various global privacy laws such as HIPAA, and consumer controled data subject to the corporate policy of various business entites such as Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, and others will remain dificualt and cumbersome.
  • A deeply connected fabric of data that combines social, administrative, and clinical data together in order to gain insight from the new tools of big data.

Over the next decade, look to several sources of investment and several paths of research and development to take place to even more tightly couple software with care. In the years from 2020 to 2030, look for the vast array of innovation to be made globally operational as some of these significant investments start to affect the way in which most humans receive care.

Creating electronic medical records and personal health records, taking in signals from wearables such as the watches that measure your sleep and activity, and embedding patient and administrative tools into the fabric of care so that patients will take more responsibility for their care is a beginning that is flourishing. But there is a darker side to all of this.

We will see the access that ordinary folks have to MDs diminish as their knowledge is more embedded in the workflow engines, recommendation engines, and auditable ability of people such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners take on more and more burdens of frontline medicine. This trend will allow for Wal-Mart and other retailers to deliver primary care at a low cost, but the jury is still out as to what quality these efforts will deliver as algorithms replace intuition as a means to practice medicine. While for the most part algorithmic-evidence-based medicine will deliver more predictable results, and mostly better results, the care providers who are willing write orders not inside a standard of care will decrease significantly over the next decade as more and more the protocols are embedded in the core workflow tools that they use. The notion of depersonalized data will become less and less possible as our genetic fingerprint begins to infiltrate most research databases, and so public policy will continue in the next decade to wrestle with the fact that almost no mask for our identity is possible when it comes to health data.

In the first year I have been at Forrester Research, I have been exposed to some of the best minds on the planet, and it has been a privilege allowing them to explain to me how they are going about changing care models. My ability to coherently synthesize their content to understand how software and healthcare are affecting one another and my opportunity to test those theories against the executives and researchers, engineers, care delivery professionals, and scholars who I talk to in the course of my workday have been a great enlightenment. In the years to come as the future I am predicting unfolds, it will be my privilege to enhance and refine the models I work with to accommodate the unexpected disruptions that will inevitably continue to take place.

I encourage you to check out my new report, "Predictions 2015: The BT Agenda Underpins Healthcare Transformation". My colleague, Peter Mueller, has also published his predictions on healthcare retail. See Forrester's complete list of 2015 Predictions reports here