Since 1812, the year of the New England Journal of Medicine‘s founding, medicine has been utterly transformed. We saw the advent of antisepsis and anesthesia (both from the 1840s alone), created ways of imaging the inside of the body, and began transplanting organs. Now the NEJM asks, what do the next 100 years have in store?
Biomedical research, data technologies, and clinical care all require resources, but the era of shifting more and more economic resources toward health care is going to end. The medicine of the future will focus on more efficient use of resources to prevent disease, with the goal of delivering what provides the best value for the patient who needs treatment. The future of medicine also depends on reducing the enormous disparities in health, particularly those between the richest and the poorest countries of the world. A basic standard of sound medical care will become an expectation of every society. Research-rich countries may come to see that achieving basic health care throughout the world is a strategy to promote stability and peace. The increasing power of information and communication technologies can help find ways to improve global health. However, that goal also requires the educational and economic development that are essential for societies to achieve a reasonable standard of health. The moral mandate here only becomes stronger as clinical progress continues to accelerate in developed societies.