Health systems have been a great success of the past century, fostering longer, healthier lives and thereby contributing to prosperity and growth. These gains have come at a price: OECD countries have seen healthcare costs consistently outgrow the economy for decades. While this trend has been perceived as a long-term challenge, the fiscal crisis and demographic shifts have intensified the issues, making it necessary to explore how sustainable health systems can be achieved.
Worldwide, healthcare is now a US$ 7 trillion industry, creating valuable jobs and supporting economic growth. For 50 years, the rise of healthcare spending has consistently outpaced economic growth by an average of 2% in OECD countries: an ever-increasing share of national wealth has been dedicated to health.
This sustained growth of expenditure is due to interacting drivers of supply and demand. The demand for healthcare is expected to continue growing, owing to structural drivers such as population ageing, lifestyle and wealth, over which health systems have little influence. More accessible to address may be the incentives underlying supply-side inefficiencies, which are inducing demand, limiting value-conscious behaviour and discouraging “frugal innovation”. These drivers are presented in detail in the project report.
Navigating these difficult economic times is challenging for policy-makers faced with the need to rein in healthcare costs. The magnitude and proximity of health financing challenges suggest that incremental solutions may not be enough.
In 2012, the Forum’s Strategic Foresight team and health community built scenarios to explore the question “What might sustainably financed health systems look like in 2040?”, to envision fundamental transformations of health systems and identify promising potential solutions. Based on scenario insights, the project developed a set of actionable interventions to help policy-makers navigate towards desired outcomes.
- Derek Aberle, Executive Vice-President and President, Qualcomm Technology Licensing, Qualcomm, USA
- Cristian Baeza, Director, Health, Nutrition and Population, World Bank, Washington DC
- Andrew Cassels, Director, Strategy, Office of the Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva
- Douglas Cole, President, Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, USA
- Lord Ara Darzi, Professor of Surgery, Imperial College London, and Chair, Institute of Global Health Innovation, St Mary’s Hospital, United Kingdom
- Victor J. Dzau, President and Chief Executive Officer, Duke University Medical Center and Health System, Duke University, USA
- George C. Halvorson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Kaiser Permanente, USA
- Nicolaus Henke, Director, Leader of the Global Healthcare Practice, McKinsey & Company, United Kingdom
- Joseph Jimenez, Chief Executive Officer, Novartis, Switzerland
- Lise Kingo, Executive Vice-President, Corporate Relations, Novo Nordisk, Denmark
- Khawar Mann, Partner, Head of Healthcare, Apax Partners, United Kingdom
- Sandip Patel, Senior Vice President, International Business, Aetna, USA
- Andrzej Rys, Health Systems and Products Director, European Commission, Brussels
- Daljit Singh, President, Fortis Healthcare, India
- Simon Stevens, President, Global Health, UnitedHealth Group, USA
- Mary A. Tolan, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Accretive Health, USA
- Angela Wilkinson, Director, Futures Programmes, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (SSEE), United Kingdom
A series of workshops and interviews, aligned with key Forum events, convened a diverse group of stakeholders to explore opportunities for the transformation of health systems.
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
World Economic Forum on Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia
Annual Meeting of the New Champions
Tianjin, People’s Republic of China
Industry Partners Strategy Meeting
New York, USA
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
Virtual meetings (ad hoc)
- Expert workshops
- Global Agenda Council sessions
- In the initial phase (2011), over 100 experts from healthcare and related sectors were engaged in a collective debate on the future of health systems, building a fact base to make the case for change. The outcome of this dialogue is captured in the interim report, presented at the Annual Meeting 2012.
- In the second phase (2012), the project leveraged the Forum’s unique multistakeholder scenario approach, and identified fundamentally novel paths for transformation.
- The scenario process built on the convening power of the Forum, engaging diverse stakeholders in a forward-looking strategic dialogue on developed and emerging health systems. The quality of the strategic conversation was enriched by diverse voices and fresh ideas from other sectors, as new partners from finance, IT and nutrition, among others, were invited to join the project community.
- The project engaged a number of ministries of health and finance in selected countries to craft a robust vision for their health system until 2040 as well as a set of recommendations on how the vision can be attained. These country-level insights were synthesized into a set of key insights and best practices that can be replicated in other countries and thereby provide further contributions to transformation of global health systems.