One of the findings of RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment ’s Public Health Foresight Study (PHFS) for addressing the complex societal challenges we face, is the necessity of integrated and person-centred approaches. This will have consequences for the roles and skills of health professionals. 

Health professionals – as the front-line and face of the health system – are key actors in helping address health inequalities. How can their training and working environments support them to help people facing disadvantages live longer and healthier lives? This was the main question that was discussed at the EuroHealthNet General Council Meeting, which took place on June 4th in Madrid. Marieke Verschuuren presented RIVM’s Public Health Foresight Study (PHFS) 2018. She explained how the PHFS-2018 shows why integrated and person-centred approaches are necessary and what the consequences will be for the roles and skills of health professionals. 

Health professionals will need to work increasingly across domains in multidisciplinary networks, and they will need to act more as a coach and less as a treatment provider. The importance of a broad, intersectoral approach for adequately tackling health inequalities and addressing the broader determinants of health was reiterated during the seminar. The role of technology was also a main topic of discussion. Technological advances can be beneficial for improving for example diagnostics, treatment and self-management of chronic diseases, yet they may also result in health inequalities. Technological developments such as Artificial Intelligence will take over some of the current tasks of health professionals, and they will need to adapt to that. The PHFS-2018 also addresses the role of technological developments in public health and health care. 

Public Health Foresight Study

Some of the main challenges found by the Public Health Foresight Study 2018, between 2015 and 2040:

  • the number of people aged 90+ increases by 191%;
  • the number of people aged 65+ living alone increases by 88%;
  • death due to dementia increases by 186%.

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