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  • Writer's pictureNancy Griffin

New McKinsey Report Calls for Global Mobilization to Improve Healthspan

Recommendations for wellbeing into later life include focus on physical, mental, social, and spiritual health along with six material shifts in societal mindsets and actions.

McKinsey & Company has released a new report, adding years to life and life to years, that addresses the gap in healthspan to lifespan. The report points out that, despite dramatic advancements in prolonging and improving life over the past century (with average life expectancy climbing from 54 years in 1960 to 73 years at latest estimates), the share of lives spent in poor health has not substantially diminished over time. On average, people spend about 50% of their lives in less-than-good health and 12% in poor health, a ratio that has not substantially changed in the past 50 years.

Jon Warner, CEO of Silvermoonshots, commented on the importance of the report on LinkedIn:

Every leader in healthcare, not to mention every health focused entrepreneur and startup founder, should read this report. Prevention and lifetime wellbeing is what we should be seeking, and then the strategy that best gets us there! As one chart from the report illustrates, however, while we have added nearly 20 years of average life expectancy since 1960, yet the proportion of people in moderate or poor health is still the same (50%). This needs to change.

The report calls on the public, private and social sectors to set more ambitious, more relevant goal for human health—"a goal meant to create more time with loved ones, set sights on more accomplishments, and create more time free from cognitive or physical impairment. A new vision requires embracing a modernized understanding of health, including physical, mental, social, and spiritual health, and the full richness of factors that influence those elements of holistic health.

The report identifies six material shifts in societal mindsets and actions that would lift average quality of life, square or increase the portion of life we spend in good health, and extend life expectancy over the baseline trend:

  1. Invest more, disproportionately on prevention and promoting optimal health. Health spending is an investment, not a cost. Governments and private institutions should invest more in areas like education, nutrition, basic research, consumer products, financial services, and technology.

  2. Improve measurement of a modernized understanding of health with better data. New global standards and systems are needed to measure health, collect significantly more data across all dimensions, and dramatically increase transparency.

  3. Scale what works. There is great potential in applying proven strategies and interventions consistently and equitably across countries, systems, and populations.

  4. Innovate more, and more quickly. The world needs more innovation in all forms: business models, government policies, pharmaceuticals, clinical standards, mobile apps, medical products, process improvements, and novel technology applications

  5. Unleash the full potential of all industries. Health is a relevant topic for all employers

  6. Empower individuals to steward their own health. Individuals should be empowered to act as the primary stewards of their own health. Individual behaviors are the biggest drivers of health in many countries, and consumers expect more agency.


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