The days of healthcare as we know it may be limited. Recent advances in biomedical research are paving the way to precision medicine, shifting the historical medical paradigm from the search for a universal solution to the development of personalized treatments. The availability of large volumes of digitized clinical data, combined with the arrival of powerful artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, may have even deeper implications. From diagnosis to clinical decision-making, from empowering the patient to redefining the role of the physician, big data is becoming one of the cornerstones of medical research and practice. At the same time, the world is seeing dramatic changes in demographics, life expectancy and the prevalence of certain diseases. Together, these three elements (precision medicine, big data and a rapidly changing society) are profoundly transforming the healthcare landscape.
The challenge is great, and the opportunities many; and yet the details of the actual implementation are far from clear. Some questions that form the foundation of this research program are:
- Taking all of the advances in medical sciences into account, what picture can be formed about the future of healthcare? What are the main areas of advancement and how will these changes affect how healthcare is conceived and delivered?
- With regard to the needs of our future societies, which emerging medical technologies can have the biggest impact, and how should they be fostered?
- How should the healthcare innovation ecosystem (hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, academic institutes) change to maximize efficiency in healthcare service delivery?
- Considering future economic and political scenarios, how could these new technologies be leveraged in order to improve the sustainability of the public healthcare system, both in Europe and beyond?
- How can the financial and regulatory frameworks not just keep up with the pace of innovation, but actually add value?