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The NHS in 2030: a people-powered and knowledge-powered health system

This report explores how digital technology and social innovation could improve the NHS, imagining a future system powered by people and knowledge.

This report is an optimistic take on what a health system would look like in 2030 if new knowledge is used differently and more people play a role in managing health.

The four axes of change set out in the report are: the promise of precision medicine; a health knowledge commons stretching beyond traditional actors; a system powered by more people and new kinds of relationships; and taking advantage of contemporary behavioural insights.

The first two concentrate on how new kinds of knowledge could be used differently:

  • Imagining where new kinds of medical information about individuals will come from, as well as how it is interpreted in stratified care.
  • Understanding the changing ways that people manage their own health information and new digital platforms for supporting patient–led research and care.

The second two concentrate on how more people will be involved in managing health:

  • Thinking through the possibility of a social movement for health: people being trusted to have a more active role in their own health and to look after others, supported by the NHS, as well as people supporting health services as volunteers.
  • Exploring how insights into human behaviours can help us to redesign health services, products and treatments in a way that reflects better how people live their lives and make choices.

There will of course be many other profound changes that affect the future of the health service. And the pace and direction of change in technology and attitudes to health are hard to forecast. This is not an attempt to predict the future of the health system in the UK.

This paper is an attempt to play out early signals of technical and social changes that Nesta can see coming into focus, through our funding programmes, our research and our partnerships. It is about talking about these ideas in plain English, to kick off a wider discussion about what we want for the future of healthcare.

Policy recommendations

Achieving a successful health system powered by people and knowledge in 2030 will require new policy and support mechanisms - setting up today the cogs and gears for a set of new functions that support healthcare in its broadest sense.

  • Digital platforms and widely agreed protocols for developing new kinds of health knowledge and responding to the latent demand for taking part in healthcare.
  • Prototypes for health data sharing that concentrate on understanding emerging attitudes to digital privacy.
  • An institution that supports and evaluates for People Powered Health research.
  • A central institution to set standards and mandate processes that will maximise the clinical and research value of large genomic and other data sets as they become available.

This report coincides with the launch of Nesta’s Health Lab. It brings together ideas from across Nesta’s programmes, policy and research teams.

Authors

Jessica Bland, Halima Khan, John Loder, Tom Symons and Stian Westlake

Authors

Stian Westlake

Stian Westlake

Stian Westlake

Executive Director of Policy and Research

Stian led Nesta's Policy and Research team. His research interests included the measurement of innovation and its effects on productivity, the role of high-growth businesses in the e...

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Tom Symons

Tom Symons

Tom Symons

Principal Researcher

Tom is a Principal Researcher in the Policy and Research team at Nesta. His research focuses on government innovation and he is currently undertaking research into the ways data can ...

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John Loder

John Loder

John Loder

Head of Strategy

John works in the Health Lab. He has a particular interest in the potential of data to improve healthcare, and leads Nesta's digital health work, such as Dementia Citizens He co-wrot...

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Halima Khan

Halima Khan

Halima Khan

Executive Director, Health Lab

Halima is Executive Director of the Health Lab, which aims to create a people powered health system. Health Lab brings together Nesta's practical work on health and ageing to achieve...

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Jessica Bland

Jessica Bland

Jessica Bland

Principal Researcher in Futures

Jessica was a principal researcher in the Policy and Research team. She explored how Nesta could best support responsible development of disruptive technology. She organised Hot Topi...

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