Future minds for Eur health

“I never think of the future –
It comes soon enough.”
Albert Einstein

Health in 2050 – a dream, a vision, a reality… When young creative minds get together – dreams are shaped into a vision; when they are supported with resources and political will –a vision is turned into reality.
Shaping Health in 2050 has already started, engaging young European researchers and policy makers in the Digital Futures Workshops and Futurium website. On 5th of September 2013, 14 enthusiastic Young Forum Gasteiners shared their knowledge, perspectives and ideas, drafting potential health scenarios of the future.
Innovation, reflection, discussion, insight – the ordinary meeting room turned into a creative lab. Facilitated by the organisers from DG CONNECT, DG SANCO and the International Forum Gastein, the futurists agreed on four proposals to be developed further at the Dragons Den workshop during the European Health Forum Gastein 2013.
These ideas consisted of the following:
1) An interactive and real-time updating health savings account that would encourage people to undertake preventive health activities or risk higher health insurance premiums;
2) DIY Healthcare, envisioning a world with high levels of health literacy where people have the ability to self diagnose and treat their own ailments;
3) Creating a European-wide database containing medical and other health records that researchers could use to evaluate treatments, track infectious diseases and for other research purposes;
4) The idea of using a 3D stem cell printer to manufacture new human body organs, particularly the heart.

A further two ideas were chosen to be taken forward to the Dragons Den Panel at the EHFG. These were “one touch health

cards”, where individuals as well as health providers have access to all their health records and can use them in any health setting, and finally EU wide implementation of smart diagnostics which enhance “personal health clouds” with real time diagnostic data from an individual´s smart phone. State of the art SAW (surface acoustic wave) sensors and NFC (near-field communication) technology will make this possible.

Some of these ideas may sound ethically dubious, completely unrealistic or fraught with all kinds of problems, but they are all grounded in real innovations and ideas at least in part likely to become a future reality.
After further development and refinement, the successful ideas will be drafted into recommendations for the Futurium output document, which will be presented to the new European Commissioner for Communications Networks, Content & Technology in 2014.
The future of 2050 has already started! The technology landscape is changing faster than ever, pushing opportunities for health to their limits. Are we ready for it?!

Further information can be found at: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/futurium/en and
https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/futurium/en/content/digital-futures-workshops-young-health-policy-makers
Mariana Dyakova, NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Public Health at University of Warwick/Public Health England, UK
Louise Boyle, Project Manager, International Forum Gastein

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