Season 5, Post 31: Our Future Health
Your author has become part of a major research programme. He was invited to do so by the UK’s National Health Service. The project is called ‘Our Future Health.’ Its idea is simple: to create a highly detailed picture of the nation’s health. Researchers should then be able to use this information to help find the most effective ways to treat diseases such as cancer, diabetes or strokes.
Our Future Health is the UK’s largest ever health research programme. Everyone in the country is eligible to take part. Your author received his invitation in the post. It is also possible to register online. Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the life sciences industry and several major charities, Our Future Health aims to sign up 5m participants. The expectation is that people from all backgrounds and ethnicities will get involved in order to gather as complete a possible perspective on the country’s health.
We have long argued that healthcare provision needs to move from being reactive to pre-emptive. In addition, behavioural choices matter: what we eat, how much we exercise and so on. Today, too many people spend their later lives in poor health. Just consider one example provided recently by Novo Nordisk: some 537m people globally have diabetes, yet only 40% are treated and 50% are not even diagnosed. Diabetes is associated with shorter life expectancy (typically 8 years) as well as a range of comorbidities such as cardiovascular or kidney issues. The aim of Our Future Health is to help future generations to live in good health for longer.
The process is simple. Your author completed an online survey regarding his health and lifestyle. He then subsequently attended a free clinic – pictured – where he was weighed, measured, had his blood pressure recorded and a blood sample taken (to gauge cholesterol and so on). All, fortuitously, was in good order. Data such as these are then aggregated (with individuals’ own information anonymised) and stored securely for scientists to analyse. Discoveries made from Our Future Health will then be published in scientific journals. The study is ongoing and participants may also be invited back for future tests over time. In the future, information about personal health risks may also be provided. As the Chair of Our Future Health writes, your author is “now part of something that can revolutionise the way we fight disease.” Like all revolutions, however laudable the cause, their success will only be known with the fullness of time.
On the subject of good health, your author will be taking a late summer holiday next week and the Future Trends Blog will return at the end of August.
17 August 2023
The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Heptagon Capital is an investor in Novo Nordisk. The author of this piece has no personal direct investment in the business. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.
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Alex Gunz, Fund Manager
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