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This chapter is from the book

The journey ahead

Although many of us desire better and longer lives, the collective burden of this wish could become a curse on society. We explore in this book the scientific and technological forces that make living beyond 100 possible, as well as the economic, social, and political obstacles that might stand in the way. The interplay of these forces and obstacles will shape the world between now and the year 2025. As educated consumers or professionals connected to the biosciences in its many facets, we need to understand this dynamic in greater detail. It will prepare us to participate in increasingly important public debates, as well as guide us in making wise health choices for ourselves and our families. In addition, those involved in organizations that create, deliver, or support healthcare services need to be aware of important undercurrents that can reshape markets and even entire industries in short order, akin to what we saw in information technologies and the computer industry over the past four decades and more recently in banking.

The next chapter offers a short history of biomedicine covering the past several decades; future developments in the biosciences rest on the shoulders of this remarkable era. Chapter 3, "Snapshot of the Biosciences," provides an overview of bioscience technologies and delineates more clearly our limited focus on human healthcare. Chapter 4, "Bio-Driven Convergence" reviews the confluence of life science and information technologies; this intersection holds the promise of great innovation via new business models. Chapter 5, "Business of Biomedicine," examines the major business segments—from pharma to device companies—that currently define biomedicine, including their current business models.

New biodiscoveries will need to fit the prevailing business models or find alternate routes to the market and patients. In addition, successful business models must harmonize with the prevailing healthcare systems, which are already under much pressure, as Chapter 6, "Healthcare Under Stress," examines. Healthcare, in turn, is part of a much larger socioeconomic and political system, in which numerous macro forces comingle to shape our future global environment. We describe these larger forces in Chapter 7, "Wildcards for the Future," with a special focus on uncertainties that can really rock biomedicine. Chapter 8, "Scenarios up to 2025," presents different future scenarios that could result from the interplay of these macro forces. These scenarios reflect the inherently unstable balance between numerous technology drivers on one hand and various economic, social, and political forces on the other hand. Lastly, Chapter 9, "What It All Means," summarizes what all the push-and-pull means for you personally, your family, your work life, the field of commerce more broadly, and society at large.

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