Will technology make healthcare cheaper or more expensive? And will the patient have to pay for this?
Lucien De Busscher: The cost of healthcare currently stands at between 8 and 10 percent of GDP and is rising. We want to live longer and stay healthier longer. But naturally, there’s a price for this. You have more expensive robotic surgery, you have all kinds of new technology and therapies that cost many times more than traditional therapies.
Peter Hinssen: Technology can bring down health costs, I’m absolutely convinced of that. Take gene sequencing: twenty years ago it was astronomically expensive, now the cost is almost trivial. So I can now take this genome test. But what do I actually gain from that? We shouldn’t just use technology to learn more, but to really make healthcare better. Otherwise patients will be incredibly disappointed.
Jo Caudron: When a doctor suggests an innovative therapy that’s more expensive, but can deliver a better outcome, the consumer doesn’t object. But the question is: who pays? We all know examples of expensive treatments that aren’t reimbursed, like Baby Pia.
So you need to have a public debate. Do we opt for a welfare state in which we contribute a lot for democratic, common healthcare? Then, it can’t be that you get worse care if you pay less. Or do we roll the system back and pay less in basic contributions, and you have to take out extra insurance? That works in lots of countries. And that’s a political decision.
Peter Hinssen: The only way to deal with this is a real change in health: from sick care to health care. Our health care is still largely based on a patient with a problem. We then solve that problem. We need to make the shift to a much more proactive approach. As has happened in dental care. It used to be all about extracting teeth. But now you make sure your teeth don’t need to be taken out. That’s a fundamental shift.
I can’t see that happening in my lifetime. But possibly in my children’s or grandchildren’s: by using technology to build personalized solutions in a highly creative way. I sometimes think that’s a shame, because we’ll experience a real wave of opportunities in the coming decades.