When 2014 RAPS: The Regulatory Convergence opens in Austin, TX, 29 September, attendees will hear an opening keynote presentation from David Bosshart, PhD, CEO of the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI). Bosshart, who holds a doctorate in philosophy and political theory, will discuss the continuing evolution of global healthcare, changes in consumer behaviors and expectations, advances in innovation and how this new environment will fuel changes in the global healthcare regulatory sector. The title of his talk is “The Future of Healthcare: Trends, Disruptions and Scenarios.
GDI, an independent Switzerland-based think tank, specializes in trend research, retail, economic and social issues. Bosshart has been involved in communications and marketing consulting, in retailing and in scientific research.
Regulatory Focus recently had a chance to speak with Dr. Bosshart about healthcare in a globalized market.
Emerging economies, such as Brazil, China and Russia, have rising expectations for services such as healthcare, but often these expectations “are growing faster than income,” Bosshart said.
In these emerging markets, the “rising expectations come from an educated workforce and a new middle class. This quite well-educated middle class knows how to formulate their demands toward states, toward institutions, so it follows quite fast that they want better infrastructure and better healthcare,” Bosshart said.
Demographics create tremendous differences in the outlook for healthcare. For example, while industrialized nations are moving from a “birthing culture to an aging culture,” emerging nations’ demographics trend much younger, Bosshart noted. “This is a completely different outlook on how you perceive and deal with healthcare.” Specifically, the “cost structure is different, demand is different and the needs that you have to be aware of are also quite different.”
Developing Healthcare Quality Standards
“Quality standards are an important issue” in emerging economies’ healthcare infrastructure, Bosshart said. “But very often you’ll see that emerging nations are no longer so easily willing to take over that infrastructure from developed nations.” He cited India and China as examples of economies that want to create their own standards for healthcare “because they are proud to develop it themselves."
“Developing these high quality standards is likely to take the emerging nations more time,” Bosshart said. “This presents challenges not only on a technological level but also to social stability and to our understanding of how consumers change to get the correct healthcare they need,” he explained.
Embracing Technology and Complexity
Yet, these emerging economies are very quick to adopt new technologies, such as smartphones, to increase access to healthcare, commented Bosshart. “The smart tech scenario is by far the most important because it has the biggest potential to help people improve their healthcare and their personal lifestyles, but it’s also the best way to cut down costs in the whole healthcare system."
The effects of technology on consumers are two-fold, said Bosshart: “Facing information overload, people increasingly search for simple answers. Today, your smartphone helps you make decisions, so regular users gradually develop an intolerance towards complexity.” But this aversion might be dangerous in the end: “Good solutions require an understanding of today’s growing complexities. Being simple is one our most difficult tasks.”
“Simplexity” and the 21st Century
“Wherever you go in a globalized world where you have more connectivity, more information exchange, better operating technology, complexity also exponentially grows,” Bosshart said.
This is where the idea of “simplexity” comes in. Simplexity, making things simpler in a complex world, could be one of the watchwords for 21st century healthcare. “Every trend has a counter-trend, and it seems obvious that the counter-trend to complexity is simplicity,” said Bosshart.
Especially in healthcare, “people are looking for simple solutions. Your health is a very sensitive issue. When it comes to getting ill or not, to live or to die, decisions tend to be difficult and complexity can overwhelm you,” Bosshart said. “But then again, to arrive at a simple solution, you must understand what complexity means."
“We are looking at how we can understand complexity and then make it as simple as possible,” Bosshart explained. “But it is also true for highly complex healthcare issues that very often, looking at the ethical questions, there is the issue of how to do it as simply as possible without leaving behind all the ethical components that are always part of the complexity of the question. For every very complex question, there may be a very simple wrong answer. What we are looking for is a correct simple answer."
Bosshart’s talk should prove to be an interesting look at the speed-of-light changes to the global healthcare economy that will factor into every action regulatory professionals take. His speech is slated from 8:30-10 a.m. with time for Q&A and will take place in Ballroom D, Level 4, at the Neal Kocurek Memorial Austin Convention Center.