Innovation allies: from here to a healthier future

By Philippa Brice

13 October 2019


How can we make science work for a healthier future?

A new report and suite of supporting publications from the PHG Foundation set out important health policy issues posed by rapid advances in science and technology.

Set against a backdrop of accelerating scientific development, social change and pressing need for sustainable solutions to health systems such as the NHS, the My healthy future project examined the expected impact of technology on health twenty years into the future.

The final report, Our healthy future, provides a vital guide for policy makers to the potential shape of a future health system that makes the most of opportunities for better health for all throughout their lives – and avoids the pitfalls. It calls for alliances of stakeholders to support design and delivery of health innovations via:

A discussion event with senior policy makers in Westminster in October 2019 examined these recommendations for action. Conclusions included that:

Shape of the future

Future health systems will need to take a holistic, whole-of-life approach to the prediction, prevention and management of disease, based on data from a host of sources and with a focus on people-centred care. This means centring the individual patient and citizen in maximising health, including their preferences and priorities, as well as offering increasingly precise and tailored prevention and care. There will be blurring of many current boundaries, changing roles for health professionals and new interfaces for information and care.

This is our opportunity to act to shape the impacts of technology to positive outcomes by creating the right environment for positive innovation and development. Achieving this will require ongoing and closer engagement with diverse people and groups. In the data-driven health system of the future, both cohesive systems for data collection and public trust in data protection and use will be vital. It will also be essential to prioritise innovations that meet real heath needs, and for societal discussion and robust policy to protect against the dangers, such as undermining individual choice and autonomy, increasing overdiagnosis, and widening health inequalities.

See the My healthy future final report and library of supporting resources here

  • Constructive co-development – including wider participation from patients, citizens and communities
  • Smart systems – flexible health systems that can integrate different data and technologies and offer varied interfaces and delivery mechanisms for health information and care
  • Equitable access – ensuring that innovations (and health benefits) are available to all
  • Responsive regulation – agile approaches to provide proportionate oversight of rapidly evolving data and tools for health

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