Future pathways through the Healthcare System



What changes, future paths through and processes in the health system can be expected in the next few years?

What will happen on the part of patients and how will the health system be influenced by increasing digitalisation?


We have summarised for you the most important statements from recent publications on this topic, including those by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute and the Zukunftsinstitut.



Fundamental Changes thanks to new Technologies


Digitalisation in the health sector is giving more and more people access to better and individualised health information. This changes the position of patients and reduces the hierarchical distance between doctors and patients.


As a result, patients develop into active and self-determined members of the health system.

This active role of patients is also important for the success of treatment, because thanks to the targeted use of medical expertise and participation in the further procedure, patients can optimally benefit from individually tailored treatment paths.

(See also our Blogpost "patient-centered - of course?")


The provision of digital content requires a change in thinking and interdisciplinary cooperation, for example between medicine and nursing. Information that is provided today in websites, flyers and patient brochures should in future be displayed along the patient pathway when it is needed.



Through Participation to Patient Democracy


The culture in patient care that is based on participation, puts the person at the centre and thus leaves behind the historical relationship of passive patients towards the medical professional, is increasingly becoming the standard.


This future health world, in which a patient-centred approach is taken, is often referred to as patient democracy.

(Read more about this in the Swiss newspaper-article NZZ)


Patient-centred solutions allow patients to decide for themselves what role they will play in the treatment process.

For example, in such a solution, medical content is available in an easy-to-understand mobile, digital and thus 24/7 form and is individually tailored to the patient. Appointment invitations contain information on preparation, treatment and aftercare.


Patients can

  • "consult" this content several times;

  • share it with their trusted support environment;

  • use it to answer questions (which usually arise a few days after the appointment with the doctor);

  • use the contents for a proper follow-up (medication intake; physio exercises, etc.)



Patients become Consumers


Looking further into the future, patients will increasingly become consumers thanks to easy access to a constantly growing selection of mobile applications in the healthcare sector. (Frick, Bosshart & Breit, 2020).


Supply and demand could change fundamentally through new technical interfaces (such as smartphones, wearables, smart assistants) and networked infrastructure.


For example, in the future it will be possible to obtain information about deeper-lying health disorders through continuous monitoring of body data. This means that diseases will not only be discovered when visiting the doctor, during a laboratory examination or in hospital, but thanks to artificial intelligence and the available measurement data, patterns that are characteristic of certain diseases will be automatically pointed out (Szpiro, 2020).


This increasing sovereignty of patients over their own health and the course of their illness ultimately leads not only to more rights - such as the choice and self-determination over treatment methods or location - but also to more obligations.

Patients must be encouraged and supported to take responsibility for themselves and their own health.


With this personalisation of health - thanks to smartphones, wearables and smart assistants - patients as consumers will have corresponding expectations, for example in terms of convenience.



Next Practice: Customer Experience


The focus here is on thinking radically from the patient's point of view and integrating all decisions around individual health into it, so that the patient's well-being increasingly takes centre stage.


Medical services must be integrated seamlessly and conveniently into the everyday lives of customers.


The means to achieve this are the increased use of smartphones or mobile devices as well as rethinking existing paths through the healthcare system into patient journeys and designing them in a consistent manner (Frick, Bosshart & Breit, 2020).


This requires suitable, consistent work processes and communication channels with consistently secure data access.


A networked system landscape that is as uniform as possible and software that both optimally supports treatment and is oriented to the patient pathway are two important internal ICT components that contribute to success.



What is needed for the Customer Experience of the Future?


In order for the potential of digitalisation in the health market and individualisation of health services to be exploited, three fundamental prerequisites must be met in the health sector.


Changes are needed at the technical and political level, as well as a move towards platform and ecosystem thinking.

Data protection-compliant networking of health data instead of isolated solutions At the technical level, an infrastructure is lacking that enables the structured and standardised collection of patient data and provides the basis for networking health data beyond isolated solutions of individual actors.


The prerequisite for this is solid protection against potential security risks (e.g. hacker attacks) as well as answering ethical questions around privacy and the use of personal data for research.


Adjustments at political level

Secondly, adjustments are needed at the political level. It is not only important that policy adapts to the interconnectedness of global health systems, but also supports developments in this regard.


The recent health and economic crisis as a result of the Corona pandemic shows that global processes and trends require a globally uniform solution for the health of the world's population.

In order to ensure this, there is a need for increased transparency in the entire health market, for which the basic political prerequisites must be created within the framework of digitalisation.


In this context, Switzerland will vote on the E-ID law in March 2021, which is an important basis for the secure and simple use of patient data in platform systems.


Structural Change towards Cooperation and Networks

Thirdly, there needs to be a fundamental change in healthcare structures through cooperation and the connecting and networking of governmental and non-governmental actors, because isolated actors cannot benefit from network effects and cannot learn fast enough.