Designing healthcare for an aging population

Takeaways from the _by Design event ‘Healthcare of the Future’

Healthcare is a topic that most people can relate to and care about. This became obvious during our _by Design event on October 27th, where several health experts collaborated with designers from KPMG, EGGS, 1508, and Monstarlab to explore solutions to some of the big health challenges of our time. A reoccurring topic was how we can care for an aging population – could we use patient data to help people not only live longer but also stay healthy for longer?

Image credits for top right picture: Mikkel Rohde Madsen

Fast-changing demographics need a rethink of the healthcare structure

In 2040, we will have doubled the number of people above 64 years old in relation to citizens between ages 18-64, compared to the year 2000. At the same time, the number of nurses is constantly decreasing. If this trend continues, we will have significantly fewer nurses per elderly person in 20 years. In Denmark, the same healthcare structure has remained for 30+ years, but to solve the future equation, Jesper Fisker, CEO at Danish Cancer Society, stated in his presentation that we need to rethink this healthcare structure.

Digitalisation, new methods, AI, and other health tech innovations will be essential to solve the issue of a growing elderly generation, not only to cure ill patients but to prevent people from getting sick in the first place. The future will most likely not focus on making people live longer but rather on making people live a long healthy life before the need for hospitalisation.

Jesper Fisker, CEO at Danish Cancer Society, lifted how the population will get older in the future and the importance of making our lives healthier for longer

The new health journey challenges the future role of the hospital

The prevention of illness, rather than treatment, was a topic throughout the whole event. If we can create a healthier population, the need for treatment in hospitals will decrease. Moving healthcare to the patient home and viewing the health journey from the patient's perspective instead of centered around the healthcare system is an ongoing trend. This means that the patient journey goes beyond the hospital visit, now more than ever, and the border between health and everyday life is fading. However, we are still building several new hospitals, so a question for the future is what these hospital facilities will be used for.

Looking into the future, where more and more people are treated at home, the hospital will be less used for the same purpose as it is today. One challenge during the evening questioned the role of the future hospital. Could we use the hospital more flexibly, as a training center perhaps, to prepare professionals when a critical situation occurs? And one central question: how do we reach the data that could be a crucial factor in both the prevention and treatment of patients when we no longer have access to it in the closed hospital environment?

Could person-owned data be the solution to future health challenges?

Today, accessing patient data is difficult, time-consuming, and limited. However, efficient use of data can be key to preventing illness in the future. Several discussions lifted the opportunity to use data more efficiently in the future by giving data ownership to the patient or user. If users themselves could decide which data could be tracked and used in healthcare, the data would always be accessible, and the process to access it would already be approved when needed. The user could own the data instead of the system. This way, the data could be used for early detection and personalised interventions rather than being limited to an isolated system.

Of course, an ethical question would remain – how much should we tell the person about their future health, and how much is acceptable to nudge a certain healthy behaviour based on that personal data to prevent diseases? In the discussions, some referred to the younger generation, who expects to share and receive data, as a role model for this digitalised future.

We have the tools - we just need to act

It is obvious that there are several complex challenges to solve within healthcare today - the challenges during this evening were only five of them. But Jesper Fisker was clear that we have the possibility to find a solution in time. We already know about these trends and are in a good position to act on them now. We have a system that can change easily when needed, looking at Covid-19 as a good example. And we have the technology that is constantly developing. If we use that well together with humans, we have an excellent potential for a healthy future.

About the _by Design initiative

The _by Design community is a collaborative community with partners from EGGS Design, Monstar-Lab, KPMG, and 1508.

Our joint ambition is to help leaders build better businesses and create a better future for all of us by design. Through open knowledge sharing, we aspire to inspire new kinds of leadership, provide design-driven guidance on organisational change and inform sustainable business models.

Together we will bring new ideas, perspectives, and a critical lens on what design can do for companies, organizations, and society. Exploring topics like Better Business by Design, Sustainability by Design, Privacy by Design, and much more.

Stay tuned as we develop our community on LinkedIn and related initiatives around _ by Design.

Sounds interesting?

Camilla  Lundström

You should talk to Digital Designer
Camilla Lundström
+45 311 39 457

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