75 years ago, many parts of the world were grappling with infectious diseases, high infant mortality rate and poor access to basic healthcare facilities. 75 years from now – the future of healthcare is going to be equally transformational. Data, AI and predictive analytics will enable better care at homes and hospitals will be able to serve patients at remote locations with ease. As we mark World Health Day today and marvel at the world’s healthcare advancements over the last 75th years, it is important to acknowledge the healthcare challenges still facing the world today.
30% of the global population are not able to access essential health services. Almost 2 billion people face catastrophic or impoverishing health spending, with significant inequalities affecting those in the most vulnerable settings.  Within Asia Pacific, unmet healthcare needs and the strain on healthcare systems for resources are growing more visible as the pandemic recedes. The future of healthcare also needs to rise to the challenge of fostering access through becoming increasingly distributed and interconnected for both in-person and virtual care.
As WHO's Chief Scientist, Dr Soumya Swaminathan highlighted – with more people having access to technology, digital solutions and tools will play an increasingly important role in shaping healthcare landscape in the future. The future of healthcare will be carved by using digital technologies to help our doctors, and healthcare workers make better diagnosis and perform more efficient procedures – thereby reducing healthcare burdens on our strained ecosystems.
This year’s theme Health For All envisions that all people have good health for a fulfilling life in a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. As we paint the picture of what Health for All would look like in the future, one important question to address is how healthcare systems and hospitals embrace the full possibilities of digital transformation and bring its positive impact to life for healthcare professionals, staff, and patients?
In a panel discussion organized by Economist Impact titled ‘Tomorrow’s Smart Hospital: Maximizing the Future of Connected Digital Care’, Caroline Clarke, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice-President, Philips APAC, Stephen MacFeely, Director, Department of Data and Analytics, World Health Organization, Khee Poh Lam, Provost’s Chair Professor of Architecture and the Built Environment, College of Design and Engineering, National University of Singapore, and Paul T Sergeant, Professor Emeritus KU Leuven Faculty of Medicine discussed this important topic with senior representatives from the private, public and civil sectors across health.