Wouter Bos: “Technology carries a great promise for healthcare” But is this true?

The one and most frequently asked question to Wouter Bos after he left politics as a minister of finance is why he moved into the health care consultancy. His one and only answer is: because health care is more complicated than finance and yet, it is more rewarding. And his professional deformation resulted in thinking only of cost at finance, which is so similar to health care.

As pessimist the future with healthcare for him is related to only tremendous rising costs. Technology developments, do these solve the problem of rising costs? Technology never made health care cheaper in the past, so it is not expected to happen today, nor in the future. Reason is that innovations are always immediately wanted, there is always a need for innovations, so this will create additional cost.

Another pessimistic vision is that the top ten of life threatening diseases is an ongoing story. It Is like a perpetuum mobile, it keeps going. Once one is curable, another, new life threatening disease will reach the surface of life. Besides, often a life threatening disease will be converted in a chronic disease, again not cheaper, rather more expensive.

Growing knowledge about diseases, even in the early stage of life, contributes to growth of cost, since early detected diseases will be treated as well. Who dares to withheld the treatment of young people? As no one will, this earlier detection, today even into the placenta, will help raising the costs.

The worst of all is, diseases are smarter than we are. Take as an example cancer. It is about cells, and cells have the ability to multiply. So, in the fight against cancer we are not fighting against death, but against life!

Do not misinterpret: challenge technology, keep doing so, but do not expect it will reduce cost. So, should we continue? Certainly, challenge technological innovators, predominantly with the objective to maintain quality of life, instead of delaying death. Death is unavoidable, but it should not come at an too early, unexpected time.

In conclusion, sharish new technologies, because of the quality of life issue. Ensure that the benefits are fairly distributed, to those who need it most. Continue to struggle to fight suffering in life, in spite of the rising costs.