Trends influencing health care

Health care must adapt to the aging population and an increase in chronic illness, two trends that drive growth in the demand not only for medical care but also for preventive services and well-being services. Health care systems around the world face shortages of competent professionals while, at the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased treatment backlogs and the demand for health care services grows rapidly. Digital services drive the renewal of health care and bring new solutions, but they also create new customer expectations.

Trend The digitalization of health care The ageing of the population Lifestyle diseases, holistic health and well-being Shortage of health care professionals
Description

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digitalization of health care and the development of related technology.

Health care professionals are increasingly willing to make use of remote services as part of a hybrid operating model.

Customer expectations concerning digital services are increasing and customers expect better service quality, availability, convenience and personalization.

The Finnish population is aging at the second-highest rate in the world and this trend is expected to continue in the coming decades. The same trend is also seen in Sweden.

Changes in the population structure will have a pivotal effect on the dependency ratio, with public health care costs growing at the same time.

As many as 50% of working-age Finns have, or are at risk of developing, a lifestyle disease.

Obesity, diabetes, hypertension, sleep disorders, substance abuse, back problems and mental health challenges reduce work ability, lead to sickness absences and the costs of medical care while also increasing premature unemployment.

Interest in holistic health and well-being as well as related data and measurements is growing in certain population groups.

There is a global shortage of health care professionals.

In Finland, the public sector alone is estimated to currently have a shortage of over a thousand physicians.

The social welfare and health care sector in Finland is predicted to need as many as 200,000 new professionals over the next 15 years to replace retiring employees and respond to the growing demand for services.

The industry faces a twofold challenge of not only attracting but also retaining professionals. Especially with regard to nurses, it has been reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the number of people who have made a career change or intend to do so.

Impact on health care

Making broad use of digitalization enables the faster provision of products and services, promotes innovation and helps control the growth of costs.

Digitalization and artificial intelligence enable more efficient use of limited health care resources.

Access to care and the smoothness of service are improved.

Artificial intelligence (AI) enhances the identification of health risks and enables medical professionals to make faster decisions, giving them more time for customer encounters.

The development of advanced digital services creates new business opportunities.

The aging of the population and the typically higher health care costs of elderly people are expected to influence the growth of health care costs.

The higher proportion of elderly people in the population presents a variety of challenges to health care, and the only way to respond to these challenges is through new and innovative solutions.

Smooth cooperation and division of duties between the public and private sectors are preconditions for maintaining and developing the functional capacity, quality and availability of health care.

Lifestyle diseases increase the demand for health care services and emphasize the significance of preventive health care and early intervention.

There is a need for more data, automation and a customer-driven approach in order to build better treatment plans.

A growing need for cost-effective solutions for managing population health
There will be a shift from paying for use towards partially subscription-based services that support lifelong health.

Recruitment problems have become worse and the competition for skilled professionals continues to intensify – creating an attractive workplace is of critical importance.

The role of nurses and other health care professionals is growing.

Digitalization and remote services make it possible to relieve the shortage of skilled professionals and balance out regional differences in access to care.

The changes also require health care professionals to be trained in digital competencies as well as treating customers remotely.