Healthy Futures

Population growth, ageing societies and changing disease patterns are expected to drive greater demand for well-trained health workers and new digitally integrated health services in the next 15 years. Read this high-level partial forecast to see how your own health will be managed in the coming years and to spot opportunities for growth in your career or business.

ATHENA’S FORECAST (robot generated from verbatim forecasts)
Start year: 2014
Tipping point: 2026
End year: 2050
Likely Impact: Trillions
Likelihood: 95%
Regions most affected: Global
Most affected sectors: healthcare, finance, government, technology, research, food and drink, pharmaceuticals, 3D printing, environment, construction

What is changing?


  • From in-room exercise equipment, detox menus, and healthy vending machines to medical spas, yoga spaces, and access to telehealth (remote consultations) – expect the availability of personalized health and wellness services to rise within the hospitality industry.
  • Fake and dangerous food and drink threaten the health and safety of people around the world.
  • Higher taxes on meat and other livestock products will be necessary to improve public health and combat climate change.
  • 11 percent of the global population will be vulnerable to micronutrient deficiencies due to a reliance on seafood.
  • Demand for fruit will continue to increase as rising disposable incomes in China make consumers more health conscious.
  • By 2020 depression will be the second biggest cause of health problems in the world.
  • Ecumenical Market for Women’s Health Therapeutics Expected to reach $22.5 Billion in 2018.



  • The scale and scope of chronic disease will change as some players focus on vertical health
  • Even a very small increase in the incidence of disease resulting from exposure to RFR could have broad implications for public health.
  • Changes in climatic conditions will act as threat multipliers to a wide range of noncommunicable and infectious diseases.
  • The spread of yellow fever (YF) is a global health threat.


  • Access to healthcare will change from provider-centered to person-centered where encounters between patients and the healthcare system will occur virtually and in new consumer-directed settings.
  • Digital care planning will be a key factor driving better health outcomes and prices.
  • 75 percent of patients expect to use digital services to help make decisions about their health.
  • Consumer health wearables are expected to grow at a CAGR of 27.8 percent in 2020.
  • Health systems will be able to use social media data to monitor and predict a broad range of health issues.
  • Demand for health application programming interfaces (APIs) will grow 10-fold by 2021.
  • The new tools of clinical decision support and comparative effectiveness research, relying on Big Data, will come into their own.
  • Providers will have to show demonstrable progress towards fully interoperable digital health
  • Home health technologies market to quadruple in size to $13.7 billion in worldwide revenue over the next four years.
  • Radiology services will be in high demand as more facilities need and request around-the-clock imaging reads.
  • The future of healthcare will largely depend on the future of 3D printing.
  • Computable medical records will fuel the next generation of EHRs.
  • Epidermal electronic systems (electronics that adhere to the skin like temporary tattoos) could allow health care staff to monitor patients remotely and wirelessly.
  • The U.S. health care system could eventually save over $6 billion annually from telehealth.


  • Roughly four in 10 people (42 percent) in the healthcare workforce will be contractors, freelancers or internal temporary positions.
  • There will be a projected shortage of 18 million health workers needed to achieve the SDGs in low- and lower-middle-income countries.
  • The global economy is projected to create around 40 million new health sector jobs by 2030.


Zika virus

  • There is a “very low risk” of international spread of the Zika virus as a result of the Rio Olympics.
  • Developments with gene drives-such as genetically modified mosquitoes to help battle Zika and similar diseases-have the potential to address environmental and public health threats.


  • Forthcoming revisions to the Millennium Development Goals are expected to again highlight the importance of disease prevention and health care to the global community.
  • Health companies will start launching health insurance.
  • Health insurance, pensions and other provisions will need to be recalibrated in an era where the pace of technological and organisational change is outstripping the ability of both labour markets and the capacity of government to respond.
  • 75 percent of patients expect to use digital services to help make decisions about their health.


  • Full implementation of EU environmental legislation could save the EU economy €50 billion every year in health costs and direct costs to the environment.
  • More intensive regulation and compliance will be drivers of the healthcare market in the future.




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