The future

Why data marketplace is critical for solving ageing crisis

Health is one of the priority UN Sustainable development goals. An objective measure of health is the duration of lifespan and healthspan. Governments across the world adopt health expansion targets, in particular the UK government set as an objective to increase the average lifespan by five years by 2035. But as lifespans increase, at the same time the society is struggling to address the challenges caused by the ageing population and life expectancy that put a burden on financial systems, therefore requiring new ways to address financial wellness in later, longer, life. Further, as less people are dying from curable diseases and the population ages, more death and loss of agility is caused by age-related diseases, such as cancer and with a smaller proportion of working people, the ageing population levies an increased burden on the healthcare systems. In order to address that there have been efforts to: 1) transition from symptom treatments to prevention. The Covid-19 pandemics spotlighted the critical importance of prevention over dealing with consequences of a health crisis. 2) increase efficiency of research and treatment via precision and personalisation medicine. Clinical trials need to be redesigned to match the right trial to the right patient. 2) create attitudes and infrastructure for patients’ active participation. A combination of these approaches is commonly referred to as P4.

Personal data (and that includes not only health data, but also wider Life Data) is critical in P4 for enabling research, creating new solutions and improving health in clinical settings and self-care. The technologies to process it are available – including sophisticated Machine Learning algorithms, and vast computational resources – however mechanisms to effectively and fairly collect and utilise it at the economical ecosystem level haven been severely underdeveloped, and the most disadvantaged and misrepresented are older people.

In October 2020, the UK government has announced its National Data Strategy that states the urgency and high-priority of improving the data collection, application and protection systems at the nation’s level. As declared in the Strategy, “Better use of data will drive growth and productivity, improve our society and public services and position the UK as a leader of the next wave of data-driven innovation”. Among the cornerstone directions are building systems for better data security, innovation and trust. The data, related to all life journey of individuals, including health, behavioural, environmental, financial (Life Data), is among the most numerous, useful, and also most challenging when it comes to solving the privacy, collection, storage and exchange limitations.

With the abundance of recognised importance of this area, what is missing, is a holistic approach that not only fixes one or another issue but, in the economics and market design terms, creates an infrastructure for optimising and balancing the demand (from individuals themselves, researchers, business innovators) and supply (individual data). The core of such systems is incentivising economically justified behavior of the key market players. The key element of this system is the individual motivated to invest time, effort and money into own long-term health. So far, Participation has been left out of P4, and most dramatically it relates to the older people. Developing a system with a principle of Senior-first (as an analogy with Mobile-first movement in product design) what would create such a balanced ecosystem is a complex and long-term ambition, that however, if the only way to effectively resolve the challenge.

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