People don’t have jobs so they can’t spend. The rampant consumerism that fueled the industrial age economy is gone. The service economy didn’t stand up to its hype. The information age produced the dot-com bubble. Forget about the jobs of the future — where will the jobs of the present come from? How will the millions out of work be employed again? And what does all this mean for the health care industry and for designers and manufacturers of medical devices?

In the U.S., until the health insurance mandate goes into effect, those who can afford to keep their health insurance will become fewer and fewer. And even with mandated health insurance, many will opt for high-deductible policies. This means that people will postpone treatment as long as possible, with the attendant increase in the seriousness of their health problems. Surgical devices and acute treatment/care devices will experience a sharp increase in demand. Pressures to keep the cost of those devices low will be extreme. Reducing medical device cost will take precedence over designing to improve outcomes.

At the same time, containing health care costs will be a government priority. There will be significant funding from that source for the design of medical devices that aid preventative care. The cost/benefit of such devices will need to be extremely compelling if they are to have any chance of succeeding.

These are some of the things we see in our crystal ball. What do you see in yours?