The Capacity to Care

Measuring perceptions of accessibility and integration of healthcare systems, and adoption of connected healthcare

Urgent health challenges and fast-emerging digital technologies are prompting a global rethink of how healthcare is organized and delivered. Health leaders recognize the need for a more integrated approach to care that maximizes efficiency, improves patient experience and ultimately fosters a healthier population.

Executive Summary

The Future Health Index (FHI) at the core of this report provides a benchmark for a country’s readiness to meet some of the key healthcare challenges emerging globally.

The FHI measures readiness by examining perceptions about the accessibility and level of integration of healthcare services, and the adoption of connected care technology throughout national healthcare systems. It is based on the input and self-reported behaviors of patients and healthcare professionals throughout 13 geographically and developmentally diverse countries, which collectively produce a snapshot of how healthcare is experienced on both sides of the patient-professional divide.

It is a difficult truth that one of the greatest achievements of modern times – the overall global advance of public health – has created one of humanity’s most pressing dilemmas. Around the world, healthcare systems are under strain as populations swell and grow older, helped by the extension of sanitation and medical services, as well as breakthroughs in technology and disease treatment. By 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 will nearly double to 22%, according to the World Health Organization.1 Much of this growth will be concentrated in low and middle-income countries, where many people already lack access to health services and infrastructure. The aging trend will also drive the need for palliative care and the treatment of chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes and dementia, which require significant resources and long-term commitment on the parts of both patient and healthcare system.

Meeting these emerging challenges will require a new approach to healthcare; one that applies technology to address the communication gaps between the various parts of a healthcare system and create a constant feedback loop between patients and the institutions and healthcare professionals that provide treatment. This ‘connected care’ facilitates the integration of all parts of the health system, from patients and their carers, family and friends to doctors to hospitals to insurers and governments. It is based on real-time communication, enabled through emerging technologies that include secure networks, linking software and devices that monitor key health indicators. It is underpinned by three core tenets: increasing access to healthcare, integrating systems, and promoting the adoption of connected technology – all of which combine to enhance efficiency and outcomes.

To some extent, this transformation is already underway. A recent study by Healthcare Information Systems Society (HIMSS Analytics), for example, estimated 61% of US healthcare organizations have already adopted telemedicine solutions such as electronic consultations and remote monitoring.2 However, there is no denying that technological adoption, alongside fundamentals such as access to health services, can vary considerably according to demographics and income levels, within and between countries. The FHI highlights both successes and areas where connected care is proving more elusive. It provides a means to look deeper into perceptions of healthcare, to inform innovation in the delivery of improved healthcare integration and, ultimately, the delivery of higher-quality health services at greater scale and lower costs.