“Grateful!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Fast medical science – the concept of pharmacogenetics, the marriage of DNA science with healthcare and pharma – this is one of the key trends that have defined my healthcare keynotes for 25+ years!
The world of science and healthcare moves incredibly fast -yesterday, I was a grateful recipient of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
It’s remarkable to think about the speed of what has transpired in just over a year. Just over 20 months ago, I spoke to the global leadership team of Pfizer at an event in Paris on the future trends that would shape our healthcare world. Little would I ever know that just a short time later, our world would change forever
I am blessed to live in such an extraordinary time. The science and healthcare community has rallied; not always perfectly, but in ways that are truly extraordinary. There are millions playing a role: the lovely woman in the picture giving me the dose is a retired doctor – an obstetrics professional, she spent her professional life delivering babies! Today, she is working long hours to play a small role in an extraordinary global war.
She, and so many others. I am following so many medical doctors on Twitter right now as variants rage and numbers surge, and I am humbled by their efforts and numbed into shock by their anger. They are pleading with the government to re-engineer the process to deal with the speed with which the virus continues to wreak havoc; meanwhile, they soldier on, committed to their oath. I am grateful.
In the midst of all the angst, anger, worry, and criticism of the rollout in various regions – and I am as guilty as any – it is all too easy to forget just how quickly medical science has rallied to the cause. Whether this particular product or Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, or the much-maligned AstraZeneca, we are seeing something truly extraordinary that will forever shape global healthcare in ways that we might not yet imagine.
When Pfizer had me in to open this senior global leadership team meeting in 2019, with a talk on the future of healthcare, I wrote a summary of what I intended to cover:
The rapid evolution of genomic science, the acceleration of gene therapy, the virtualization of healthcare with medical device connectivity, the changing nature of the relationship between patients and doctors, an explosion in medical knowledge – the world of healthcare is in the midst of more change than it has seen in the last 100 years. This pharmaceutical giant brought together a global team to examine issues and opportunities in the world of healthcare, and needed an inspiring keynote to take them on a tour of the sweeping trends that could define their future.
All of those trends have come about, but it didn’t take the ten-year horizon I spoke of – it has taken but months. The future is faster, and this redefines everything we know about corporate success going into our eventual post-pandemic recovery.
Some months back, I hit the home broadcast studio and filmed a clip that put into perspective the dramatic acceleration that has occurred.
Just before I went on stage in Paris – literally, next to the Eiffel Tower – I went out and filmed an overview of what I planned on covering that morning.
The future of healthcare science? But wait – there’s more!
I’ve been speaking to the trends that defined our world for a long time. Way back on December 10, 2008, I was in Washington D.C. – as the closing keynote speaker for the 4th Annual World Healthcare Innovation & Technology Congress.
I’m listed as Jim Carroll – Masters of Business Imagination. Cool!
It was a fascinating conference at the cutting edge of the promise of the transformation of healthcare as it was in the late part of the first decade of the 20th century – and there were some ‘heavy hitters’ on the agenda: Newt Gingrich (I guess as head government policy-wonk); Scott McNealy (Chairman, Sun Microsystems), and a few CEOs and authors. And me – the futurist who takes the conference into the reality of what comes next.
(I think this particular conference disbanded a few years later.)
While preparing for my keynote in mid-2008, I hit upon a theme that I will often use in my keynotes – what would a certain industry look like on a certain day in the future? And so without really thinking about it, and since 2020 seemed to have a cool resonance to it – and for who knows whatever reason – I chose January 15, 2020, as the day. I wrote an article for their (since vanished) blog and created a fine-looking PDF based on that material, which you can grab here.
My high hopes for the future – and the storyline I carried to the stage – were found in the opening section of the PDF:
“Rapid technological development and relentless innovation are the two key trends that will provide for a forthcoming massive transformation of our health care system in the future.
The real challenge is: with so much knowledge and insight to be shared, is it truly possible to understand where we are really going with the world of health care?
It’s often difficult to do so. That’s why, for the last fifteen years, Jim Carroll has been providing his guidance into future trends to a wide swathe of global Fortune 1000 companies, associations, and other groups at many events and conferences. This has included a large number of healthcare groups.
He’s learned that sometimes, it is easier to open up the minds of people to big trends by taking a look *back* rather than by taking a look forward.
So let’s say it’s the year 2020.
Let’s take a look back over the last decade to see what happened with the world of health care!”
So what did I cover? To start, here are the images from the PDF. 10 trends and concepts – big bold thinking and high hopes!
(Hover your mouse over an image to pause!)
My keynote actually went into these issues in a lot more depth. I actually managed to go into the vaults and dig out the (very low-quality format) video of my talk on December 10, 2008, at the Mandarin Hotel in Washington. In my view, it’s a fantastic little 4 minute 40-second rant on the future of healthcare!
What comes next? So much more!
- technology is taking over medicine. BIo-connectivity devices such as remote blood pressure monitoring devices allow for the virtualization of many health care services (“bedless hospitals”) at a much lower cost
- Google and other companies are working on a contact lens that will monitor blood sugar/glucose for diabetes patients
- we will soon see ‘smart medical implants’. This will include a contact lens, surgically implanted, that will feature storage, a battery, sensors, and other electronics to aid in vision
- we have ingestible pharmaceuticals that report on how well a particular cancer treatment might be working
- global grand challenges and funding are set to solve big diseases, such as a $3 billion fund established by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife
- we will soon see a computer chip that will diagnose infectious diseases through continue bloodstream monitoring
- 3D printing technologies now allow us to provide customized hip replacements and other medical implants, or the printing of prosthetics for amputees — including in war-ravaged areas such as Sudan and elsewhere
- smart packaging allows the development of pharmaceutical/drug products that will aid in the use of the product
- digital mobile technologies are allowing many people to ‘get closer to their health, by monitoring, gaining a better understanding, and actively managing chronic conditions such as blood pressure and diabetes
- wearable sensor technologies (such as the contact lens mentioned above) allows for continuous monitoring of medical conditions
- personalized medicine and pharmacogenetics provides for more targeted drug and medical therapies – even if it is coming slowly from a system perspective, its scientific speed is staggering
- there is continued momentum towards virtualized healthcare concepts that don’t require visits to a doctors office, for common treatable conditions
- patient-generated data and shared patent edited medical records are providing for more consultative medical relationships
- ‘frugal innovation’ is leading to such ideas as smartphone-based medical imaging capabilities
- continued rapid advances in the cost collapse of genomic medicine
- AI advances leading to an ongoing decrease in the cost of medical diagnosis, including pathology slides, x-rays, retina scans, and more
- continued advances in anti-aging strategies
- inexpensive medical tests often referred to as a “lab-in-your-pocket” devices
- the ‘exercise is medicine’ trend which recognizes real methods to reverse the staggering cost of lifestyle disease
- robotic technology advances providing opportunities for those who have lost hands or limbs
Despite all that, the challenges in healthcare are vast. Aside from the political challenges (which will likely be a gong show), we are faced with a continuing ramp-up in self-inflicted lifestyle disease (which could cost Western society $150 billion more over 10 years), a shortage of specialized skills, a funding mismatch, the reality-gap (!), anti-science hysteria and more.
But all-in-all, there are a lot of big ideas and bold solutions.
Stay tuned. I wonder where we will be on January 15, 2030!