Transforming the global healthcare landscape

We cannot continue providing healthcare as we currently do. Medical costs are running ahead of inflation; new therapeutic and diagnostic technologies will increase costs; and an increasingly elderly population will need more healthcare.

The "Transforming healthcare: Telemedicine, best practice and you" event, which took place at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue on 23-24 February 2015, sought to understand how these massive challenges can be tackled, so that improved healthcare can be delivered at lower cost.

"Healthcare needs to find a combination of delivering better and more services at lower costs. In many industries, this might seem like a quest for the Holy Grail. Within healthcare, it is a readily achievable goal. There are best practice examples of how this can be done", said Boris Frehner, Head Healthcare Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.

Evidence from the US healthcare system suggests several factors driving up medical costs. One is the absence of common approaches. Multiple courses of treatment, with very different cost structures, exist for even simple infections. Evidence based medicine can bring greater uniformity to healthcare delivery and can reduce costs. Fully exploiting evidence based medicine can only function if healthcare incentives are properly aligned, particularly in the upstream prevention of illness.

Prevention of illness can be significantly supported by technology. Fitness devices are already in wide circulation, measuring daily exercise. Technology will deepen in sophistication, allowing individuals to monitor more of their vital signs. Healthcare providers as well as insurers are assessing how technology can be used to nudge individuals towards good behaviour and help prevent poor health.

Not all conditions can be prevented; and technology is developing to allow very detailed data monitoring an illness. Remote technology has the potential to create operation centres in hospitals, utilising staff more effectively. The same technology can be deployed in homes for lower risk patients, reducing the pressure of bed blocking.

The event was attended by over 100 healthcare professionals, technology developers and insurers. It was an invaluable exchange of insights and opinions in one of the greatest challenges facing modern society.

To read the full conference report, click here.

To see all video interviews from the event, click here.