A Prescription For Modernizing Healthcare

The industry should tap into AI and remote technologies and adopt an influencer mindset to improve care for our aging societies

Healthcare systems survived the ravages of the pandemic, but now they face endemic challenges that are daunting in their own right. Societies are aging, especially in developed economies, increasing demand for healthcare services. That growing need will increase budgetary pressures on the public and private sectors, and strain healthcare providers already grappling with workforce shortages.

Providers need to move quickly to address these challenges, according to Designing For 2035, a new report from Oliver Wyman. They can start by embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital tools to sharpen how diseases are diagnosed and treated, use remote technologies to treat more patients at home rather than in hospitals, and lean into consumers’ desire to play a bigger role in their own health decisions, among other things.

Market leaders and innovators have started to employ these strategies, but the industry needs to accelerate its efforts. Consider that 25% of the world’s population is age 60 or older, a percentage that will reach 31% in 2035, according to the World Health Organization. Health spending per person accelerates after 60 in eight major developed countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, while aging tends to dampen the productivity growth that can help finance that spending. And roughly 40% of US physicians are 55 or older, an issue many European countries also face.


Here are three strategies that can prepare our healthcare systems to meet those future stresses. 

Tap the power of AI

The healthcare industry has an opportunity to employ AI to address future challenges and improve the quality of care. The industry produces roughly 30% of the world’s data today. Diagnostic tools embedded in smartwatches and expanded biomarker testing will enrich the quality of these data. Using AI and machine learning, healthcare organizations can get a more accurate picture of patients’ health and develop personalized strategies for disease treatment as well as wellness and prevention.

Pharmaceutical companies can utilize AI to design and test potential drugs in a matter of days or weeks, rather than the years it currently takes. The technology also can help companies recruit suitable participants for clinical trials, speeding the time it takes to bring therapies to market.

Generative AI, meanwhile, can streamline some of the bureaucracy and paperwork that drives up the cost of healthcare. With smart implementation, organizations can automate tasks such as obtaining prior authorizations for treatment, developing care plans, and ordering consultations based on fresh assessments. Such gains could help fill the gaps of an aging healthcare workforce. Generative AI could save doctors up to three hours a day by 2030 and enable them to serve an additional 500 million patients, the Oliver Wyman Forum estimates.

Embrace the potential of at-home care

Shifting more care from expensive hospital settings to patients’ homes can reduce costs and improve care.

The rapid expansion of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic proved that organizations can deploy remote technologies quickly. Consumers and clinicians alike have grown more comfortable with virtual care. More than one in five US households used telehealth services between 2021 and 2022, and 63% of clinicians say virtual care will be more common than in-person visits by 2027. Providers can accelerate the growth of digital healthcare by working with governments to ease regulations that can hinder new technologies and care models, and partnering with startups that can bring products to market quickly.

By 2035, Oliver Wyman predicts point-of-care devices and at-home testing kits will provide quick and accurate results for a wide range of conditions. Patients will be able to conduct the basics of a physical exam at home using thermometers, otoscopes, stethoscopes, and scales that send real-time information to care teams via an app. Oliver Wyman projects that, on average, nearly two thirds of 10 common causes of hospital admissions could be treated at home by 2035. This can lower costs and expand access to care for underserved populations and rural communities. Even more important, it typically results in better quality care, with studies showing lower readmission rates compared with patients who are treated in hospitals.   

Embrace your inner influencer

Trust is more important than ever today, with 81% of consumers ranking it as the most important factor when making a purchase, according to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer. Yet the pandemic eroded trust in many traditional health authorities and prompted more consumers, especially the young, to seek new sources of information, including social media influencers. Forty-two percent of Generation Z, the oldest of whom will turn 27 this year, say they consult social media for health information.

Healthcare companies can enhance their reputations by becoming their own influencers. Gastroenterologist Austin Chiang is doing just that. Dubbed the TikTok Doc, he has developed his own social media following with short videos countering medical misinformation and providing clear, reputable advice on topics like colorectal cancer. Chiang, who also serves as Chief Medical Officer of Medtronic’s gastrointestinal business and Chief Medical Social Media Officer at Jefferson Health, says the “less intimidating, more approachable” nature of social media is something the medical profession should embrace.

This approach has garnered Chiang more than 180 million views on TikTok alone. “That’s a lot of eyeballs and potential influence when it comes to health information,” he told attendees of Oliver Wyman’s Health Innovation Summit in September.

The Case For Collaboration In Digital Assets


The digital assets market pits blockchain natives determined to build a new financial system against traditional institutions and authorities intent on updating the status quo. But for digital assets to go mainstream, the two camps should collaborate to promote trusted innovation that consumers want.

Up to 40% of consumers across 11 countries say they are interested in new ways of safeguarding their money, trading, and investing that were developed in cryptocurrency markets, according to the Oliver Wyman Forum’s Global Consumer Sentiment Survey. Yet consumers are far more likely to trust traditional banks to handle their money than blockchain-based startups and crypto platforms. That may reflect reputational contagion from the collapse of crypto firms like the FTX exchange.

TradFi? DeFi? How About Unify?

Banks and other traditional financial firms have strong market positions and a regulated status that provides reassurance to customers, but like incumbents in many industries they struggle with the so-called innovator’s dilemma: They would have to disrupt long-established business relationships and layers of legacy technology to fully capture the speed and efficiency of blockchain.

Digital natives face few of those constraints and have pioneered many innovative products, such as decentralized finance (DeFi) lending protocols that use software to connect borrowers and lenders without any intermediaries. But recent crypto failures and the lack of clear regulatory frameworks in many jurisdictions don’t inspire trust in these entities. That helps explain why the top four DeFi lending protocols have just $20 billion in assets, a tiny fraction of the $4 trillion in loans on the books of the four largest US banks.

The industry needs both innovation and trust to scale up digital assets, and that may best be achieved by closer partnership between blockchain natives and traditional institutions. We already see a glimpse of this in the recent US introduction of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest in Bitcoin.

Four months ago, digital assets native Grayscale Investments successfully sued the US Securities and Exchange Commission for the right to convert its closed-end Bitcoin trust into a more investor-friendly ETF. That enabled 10 other firms, including some of the biggest conventional asset managers, to launch their own Bitcoin ETFs in early January. Most of the funds enlisted a crypto exchange as custodian to safeguard their Bitcoins. The combination has proved very popular with the 10 Bitcoin ETFs attracting more than $11 billion of investor money in their first five weeks of operation.

This partnership template can be applied widely across the financial system. 

In November, the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced five pilot projects led by a variety of major banks, asset managers, and fintechs to test new use cases for tokenizing currencies, money market funds, and conventional and alternative investment funds. The pilots demonstrated the potential for more-efficiently trading assets using blockchains, automated smart contracts, and interoperability protocols from the worlds of Web3 and DeFi.

A more open, innovative, and accessible financial system should be in everyone’s interest. Greater collaboration between traditional financial institutions and blockchain natives can get us there.