According to a 2016 report by researchers from some of the most prestigious academic institutions in the United States, the future of human health depends on the growth of the Convergence in Healthcare movement. The term, Convergence in Healthcare, can best be described as a concept that brings professionals from the engineering, chemistry, IT, life sciences, physical sciences and mathematics sectors together to work cooperatively on medical research in a way that leads to innovation similar to how physicians diagnose, treat and prevent illness.
Though the clear purpose of and need for Convergence in Healthcare lies in its capacity to improve human health around the world, many professionals in academia as well as the medical research sector believe the movement holds importance for several other notable reasons. Listed here are three important reasons why industry experts and scholars believe the U.S. needs the Convergence in Healthcare movement to succeed.
U.S. healthcare costs are rising at alarming rates.
According to a government report released in early 2018, healthcare costs in the U.S. will continue to rise over the next 10 years at a rate that outpaces the country’s economic growth. Further, these pundits predict the annual cost of healthcare in the U.S. will amount to almost one-fifth of the U.S. economy in only eight years. Industry experts believe the driving force behind the growing cost is rooted in inefficient use of medical research funding, increasingly large price tags for prescription drug therapies and increased expenses for even basic health services. Ultimately, they predict these conditions will lead to a greater disparity in the quality of healthcare received by Americans along the socio-economic spectrum.
Convergence in Healthcare may be one of the most logical and universally palatable answers to this growing crisis. The core purpose of the Convergence in Healthcare movement is radical innovation to improve the quality of the healthcare people receive around the world for a much lower price. The movement is especially focused on the development of better diagnostic tools, treatments and prevention measures for the most widespread, non-infectious, chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. These diseases account for roughly 85 percent of the U.S. annual healthcare costs. Convergence in Healthcare aims to bring professionals and concepts from multiple science and mathematics sectors together to design efficient, affordable ways to treat these patients and ultimately prevent people from developing these illnesses in the first place, thereby reducing national healthcare expenditures.
The U.S. needs a way to boost its position as a medical innovator.
Beyond the political ramifications of losing its distinction as a world leader in medical innovation, the U.S. must gain strength in this particular area for a globally relevant reason. Americans have been either fully or partially responsible for some of the most important medical innovations of the last century, from the discovery of the structure of DNA to the creation of vaccines for polio and hepatitis B to the invention of the wearable cardiac pacemaker and the artificial heart. Additionally, the U.S. government-sponsored National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds more biomedical research than any other public agency in the world, thus allowing brilliant minds from many different scientific fields and from countries all around the globe to conduct life-saving work.
Without the support of a robust science community and grant funding program in the U.S., the pace of innovation in medicine risks losing momentum at a point in time when it desperately needs innovation. It’s important for the future of global health that the U.S. continues to play a strong role within this sector to help drive its scientific allies forward toward greater advances. The best chance the U.S. has of doing so is to invest further in the areas showing the most potential, including nanotechnology, data, neuroscience and the improvement of drug delivery systems within the body. Convergence in Healthcare would allow the U.S. to embrace all of these strengths to develop more effective, pioneering tools and acquire knowledge at a much faster rate.
Convergent research creates new jobs at every level.
While much of the front-line work in the convergence revolution will be conducted by people with advanced doctoral degrees working in laboratories, it’s important to note that Convergence in Healthcare can also prove fruitful for others in the science industry, even those with a mid-level skill range without a bachelor’s degree. In an age when automation is replacing many traditional jobs, it’s more important than ever for the U.S. to focus on the creation of new middle-skills jobs for the nation’s workforce, and the Convergence in Healthcare movement could benefit strongly from employees in this demographic.
According to a study by the Brookings Institute, in 2016, there were 26 million jobs available in the U.S. requiring a high level of knowledge in one of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Of these positions, roughly 50 percent did not require a job applicant to have a college degree. With regard to the job market for those without at least bachelor’s degrees, jobs in STEM pay significantly higher than average. The growth of the Convergence in Healthcare revolution could improve the employment outlook for professionals at every skill level, but could yield especially promising benefits for mid-level workers looking for a meaningful career that pays well.