Smarter Health Care

Megatrends in Healthcare: Review for the Swiss National Science Foundation's National Research Programme 74 (NRP74)


Deml MJ, Jungo KT, Maessen M, Martani A, Ulyte A.


Objectives: In this paper, we present a review of some relevant megatrends in healthcare conducted as part of the Swiss National Science Foundation’s National Research Programme 74 (NRP74) “Smarter Health Care.” Our aim is to stimulate discussions about long-term tendencies underlying the current and future development of the healthcare system.

Methods: Our team—a multidisciplinary panel of researchers involved in the NRP74—went through an iterative process of internal consultations followed by a rapid literature review with the goal of reaching group consensus concerning the most relevant megatrends in healthcare.

Results: Five megatrends were identified, namely: 1) Socio-demographic shifts. 2) Broadening meaning of “health.” 3) Empowered patients and service users. 4) Digitalization in healthcare. 5) Emergence of new models of care. The main features of each megatrend are presented, drawing often on the situation in Switzerland as a paradigmatic example and adding reflections on the potential influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on them.

Conclusion: Considering the long-term megatrends affecting the evolution of healthcare is important—amongst other things–to understand and contextualise the relevance and implications of innovative health services research results.