• Insights on how future trends may impact society in the next decade

  • Predictions on how future trends may disrupt the healthcare industry

Healthcare Horizons offers a view into the future. To better understand how current and future trends may impact society in general and healthcare specifically, a number of KPMG subject matter experts were interviewed for this thought leadership content. Based on these subject matter expert views, external sources and KPMG healthcare professionals’ experiences and insights working with governments, payors and provider organizations around the world, five trend categories have been identified: technology and data, consumerism, workforce, communities, and environmental, social and governance (ESG).

The health sector has often been portrayed as slow to change, and in some cases this is true. Yet if one looks at the last couple of decades, many major transitions have occurred: a shift away from paternalistic medical culture; more intelligent electronic health records; dramatic declines in length of hospital stays; flexible workforces with more diverse skill mixes (e.g., physician assistants and specialized nursing cadres); and increased focus on work being performed at the top-of-practice. The pandemic catalyzed an even greater acceleration of change, sparking wholesale shifts toward digitally delivered care, community-driven support models, new population health surveillance techniques and mass public participation in clinical trials.

However, there is now a serious risk that healthcare systems will return to ‘business as usual,’ taking a conservative and incremental approach to transformation. This may even feel like the right thing to do, at least in the short-term: healthcare professionals are exhausted, budgets are tight, and so much change has already taken place over the last few years, but this inclination must be resisted. Waves of crises surging towards the sector mean that rapid transformation should be embraced as the ‘new normal’ in healthcare. Anything less risks leading organizations down the path towards undesirable ‘alienated’ or ‘impoverished’ scenarios.

To do so, healthcare systems should harness the power of future trends – developments that are expected to profoundly impact every industry over the next decade. Understanding and preparing for the following five key areas of change will be critical in guiding healthcare systems towards an inclusive future.

Future trends

Technology and data

  • Web 3.0 will bring about the decentralization of data on the internet, with power shifting to citizens
  • The metaverse will create new spaces for organizations to transact and engage
  • Widespread adoption of cognitive technologies (e.g., machine learning, natural language processing, speech recognition, and robotics) will facilitate seamless interactions between humans and machines
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to mature, liberating workers from routine tasks and enabling greater innovation
  • Increasingly complex digital twins will allow individuals and organizations to accurately simulate and predict the consequences of real-world decisions


  • Demand will increase for seamless, personalized and omnichannel experiences
  • Ecosystems will be consumer-centric rather than organization-centered
  • Markets will converge and consolidate
  • Digital platform-based consumption will become widespread


  • Movement towards employee-centric organizations, in which wellbeing and employee-driven innovation are seen as vitally important
  • Micro-credentialing will enable more focused skill development and accreditation within more flexible workforces
  • Borderless delivery of local services will be supported by digitally enabled workforces

Community empowerment

  • Communities will be activated in addressing complex societal challenges
  • Community partnerships will rise to address societal challenges
  • A trend towards localism will be accompanied by, and facilitated by, the rise of global platforms

Environmental, social and governance (ESG)

  • Emergence of an integrity-based economy in which people demand organizational accountability and transparency on governance, and environmental and social impact
  • Increased pressure for all organizations to reduce climate impacts and carbon footprints
  • Access to new sources of capital will be contingent on performance against ESG indicators

Future trends and their predicted impact upon healthcare

Digitalization is radically transforming the way people interact with the world around them. This trend will likely accelerate over the next decade with the emergence of Web 3.0. This can be thought of as the upgrade to the internet, where the current ‘read and write’ model will be replaced by a ‘read, write and own’ model, making it more democratic and increasingly decentralized. A key part of this new internet will be the metaverse, which will make it possible to experience a ‘phygital’ world, where physical and digital realities collide, creating a borderless realm that has the potential to enhance people’s lives by providing new opportunities to work, learn and play through the use of virtual and augmented reality.

We can expect to see digital transformation touching every aspect of the healthcare ecosystem in the coming years, from patient experiences to clinical and operational systems, to the skills and culture of healthcare workers. But in order to move healthcare systems towards an inclusive future, technology must be seen as a means to an end, not an end in itself. Technology will transform healthcare for the better where it empowers individuals to take charge of their own health, where it liberates healthcare professionals from routine tasks and allows them to focus on their patients, and where it enables community-driven action to address health inequities and tailor services to the needs of communities.


• Health data will be decentralized, coveted and traded by individuals, including by patients.  
• A significant amount of healthcare will be delivered remotely, with the use of hospitals restricted to acute. and emergency treatment  

See page 14 and 15 of the Healthcare Horizons report to read detailed information on these predictions.

Accelerating technological change and generational shifts in attitudes and use of technology are producing a rapid change in the expectations that individuals have of their healthcare systems. The first of the wealthier, and often less deferential, Baby Boomers are approaching an age at which they will need more care, while younger generations will start to engage with health systems that don’t meet their expectations for instant access, seamless and personalized experiences, and global connectivity. This will likely coincide with a growth in the proportion of people having an interest in new technology, including those over the age of 75 whose digital adoption and proficiency rapidly increased due to the pandemic.1


• New entrants will compete with existing healthcare players, taking up a substantial part of the market.  
•The volume of apps and VR/AR-based programs prescribed will equal the volume of drugs

See page 16 of the Healthcare Horizons report to read detailed information on these predictions.

Although technology is changing healthcare, it is, and will remain, a people-driven business. But the growing demand for care and the immense stresses placed on the healthcare workforce have worsened the global workforce crisis. In response, the same tired approaches are often proposed: to either hire, or train, more doctors and nurses. But there are only a finite number of healthcare professionals in the world, while current training approaches are lengthy. To address these challenges the healthcare workforce of the future will consist of a more diverse array of roles and people will be trained differently. To support inclusive healthcare systems, organizations will become employee-centric, improving digital enablement to liberate health professionals from routine work, and supporting the workforce to build the skills they need for the future.


• A hybridized and micro-credentialed workforce will function based on their skills, not their roles.  
• A globalized health workforce will offer 24/7, 365-day care, with complex cases delivered

See page 17 of the Healthcare Horizons report to read detailed information on these predictions.

Around the world, powerful economic, social, and environmental forces are affecting inequality.2 While governments are most often seen as solely responsible for creating more equitable societies and protecting the most vulnerable, there is increased acknowledgement that these complex problems may be best addressed through collaboration. Government institutions, public bodies and community organizations all have a role to play, as do the very communities and individuals that are concerned. It is communities themselves that will provide the democratic mandate, the cultural insight, and the social capital necessary to make long-term and lasting change in addressing health inequities, embedding prevention, and improving health outcomes.


• Caring communities will be the single biggest driver of improved health and care.  
• An expanded role will be given to primary healthcare, but in a totally new

See page 18 of the Healthcare Horizons report to read detailed information on these predictions.

The health sector relies on public trust to function effectively. Historically, this trust has largely been taken for granted in most jurisdictions, as health organizations generate so much value and good will through the care they deliver. In the coming years, however, this relationship of trust is likely to come under greater pressure. Public perceptions of which institutions do and do not deserve trust are shifting as an integrity-based economy emerges, one in which people align themselves with organizations’ values, purposes and ethics. In this new world, trust is not defined purely by the quality of the interactions with organizations but by peoples’ judgments of whether organizations are living up to their ethical, environmental, and social responsibility promises. Many of the potential scandals facing health organizations are predictable – modern slavery in the supply chain, the mountain of single-use plastics, equitable access to care, and healthcare’s carbon footprint. Within this context, health organizations are likely to find their appeals that “but we heal the sick” begin to lose currency. A great deal more effort and energy will therefore be spent preventing, planning for, and responding to threats to the sector’s integrity.


• Healthcare organizations will have halved their carbon emissions and will have plans for achieving net zero.  
• Financial systems will exert even greater pressure on health organizations over ESG.
See page 19 of the Healthcare Horizons report to read detailed information on these predictions.

Key takeaways

Radical change is coming to healthcare through approaching trends in technology and data, the workforce, consumerism, communities and ESG. This will likely be highly disruptive, but under an inclusive healthcare scenario can also mean a significant shift towards personalized and empowering care that is accessible to everyone.



1 KPMG International. (2021). Me, my life, my wallet (PDF 8.3 MB).

2 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. World Social Report 2020 (PDF 3.9 MB).