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The future of healthcare in Europe

The future of healthcare will be shaped by seven separate, but interconnected, trends. 

  • Healthcare spending will continue to rise, not only because of inflationary drivers, but because of growing recognition by policymakers that improved health is linked with greater national wealth. 
  • Keeping the universal healthcare model will require rationing of services and consolidation of healthcare facilities, as public resources fall short of demand. 
  • General physicians will become more important as gatekeepers to the system and as co-ordinators of treatment for patients with multiple health issues. 
  • More effective preventive measures and fundamental lifestyle changes will be promoted to encourage healthy behaviour. 
  • European governments will need to find a way to improve collection and transparency of health data in order to prioritise investment decisions. 
  • Patients will need to take more responsibility for their own health, treatment and care. 
  • Governments will have to tackle bureaucracy and liberalise rules that restrict the roles of healthcare professionals and artificially raise the cost of medical research.

Drawing upon these trends, we have identified the following five extreme scenarios for European healthcare in 2030: 

  • Technology triumphs and cures chronic disease, while e-health takes a prominent role in the management of healthcare; 
  • European nations join forces to create a single pan-European healthcare system; 
  • Preventive medicine takes precedence over treating the sick; 
  • European healthcare systems focus on vulnerable members of society; 
  • European nations privatise all of healthcare, including its funding.

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