A Trio of Healthcare Trends Women Should Watch

At a recent female-focused Bernstein event featuring high-powered women in healthcare, panelists shared key developments they foresee. Here are three life-altering advancements that women will likely benefit from in this lifetime.

Medicine Gets Personal

As big data converges with dramatic declines in the cost of genetic analysis, medicine is undergoing a sea change in how it combats cancer and other difficult conditions. In the years ahead, expect disease treatment to become increasingly targeted and precise.

Take breast cancer, the second most dangerous cancer for women. It’s not just a single disease. That means the mutation your friend was recently diagnosed with likely differs from the one that a co-worker has survived. To account for these distinctions, healthcare professionals will increasingly focus on protocols tailored to your unique genetic makeup. The result will be more effective treatment options—and even longer lives.

Rise of Virtual Healthcare

You’re probably used to taking time out of your day to see your healthcare provider in person. But with further advancements in both medicine and technology, that’s likely to change. As hospitals and physicians build out digital platforms, care will no longer be confined by physical walls. Instead, it will become easier for patients to access high-quality, innovative care wherever they are, and whenever they need it.

That means a paramedic might treat a stroke victim based on a CAT scan taken in the ambulance—and read back at the hospital. Or you might access a therapist remotely from your device, reducing the stigma of seeking mental health care. Get ready to interact differently with the healthcare system, reclaiming time and convenience along the way.

Towards Fuller, More Independent Lives

Quality of life matters even more as we age. And thanks to exciting developments on three key fronts, we’re more likely to remain self-sufficient. Experts see breakthrough technologies just over the horizon that will help us move more, do more while moving less, and monitor our health.

For instance, electronic goggles may enhance our functional vision for longer periods while exoskeletons help restore mobility. Voice-guided applications like Alexa and Siri could control the television while a small robot keeps you safe from fall hazards or a forgotten stove. And state-of-the-art wearables will track your vital signs—like blood oxygen content, temperature, and blood pressure—allowing physicians to identify problems earlier, treat them sooner, and ensure better outcomes.

Funding for a Healthy Future

Technological advancements and specialized treatments are exciting to contemplate, but they typically come at a steep price. Despite their benefits, traditional health insurance generally doesn’t provide coverage—at least until they become more mainstream. That means women with access and assets face a potential challenge: how to prepare for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses long term.

In our experience, there’s no single amount that everyone can safely set aside. Instead, it comes down to individual choices. What type of experience do you want to have? What are the potential trade-offs involved? Self-financing care, purchasing insurance, or planning for relatives to assist represent three distinct scenarios—many rely on a combination of all three. By starting the discussion now, you’ll have the confidence to make informed choices about your plan. After all, having options is the best plan of all.

 

Authors
Beata Kirr
Co-Head—Investment Strategies

For more tips on becoming financially engaged, explore Women & Wealth, a new Bernstein podcast series designed to educate, empower, and inspire female investors, and for additional thought leadership, check out the related blogs here.

The views expressed herein do not constitute research, investment advice or trade recommendations and do not necessarily represent the views of all AB portfolio-management teams.

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