Public health in 15 years time.

I’ve written a bit previously on my views of Public Heath 3.0

A few weeks ago I went to an excellent, small but perfectly formed session on “the future”.
It was Chatham house rules, so I won’t spill too many beans.

The upshot was fascinating and worth sharing

We spend a lot of time thinking about “the future” of the profession of public health.

1)
Opening thoughts
In 10y time there will be fewer off us than there are now

local govt is really pleased to own PH again. This will likely continue, despite financial carnage, as long as we continue to adapt to an ever changing world.

The value of PH is about allocative efficiency of spending and gravity of spending to get better allocative value
Our core job wont change = how we continue to get to allocative efficiency. Get more outomes out of £ envelope.

LG values these skill sets.

2)
Our job will be highly specialist or technical or creating relationships and trust. It might be both

Business partnering skills will be important.
Technical competency is key, but…..this competency is no use without ability to persuade and get trust.

3)
Get into analytics

Skillset of health intelligence likely to be critical skill in the future.

What can and can’t be concluded from different streams of data.
Predictive analytics is a big feature of the future. New professions will develop to do this work. Can we keep up? We ought to try.
Also local contextual intervention as to how to contextualise data from big data predictive analysis is key.

4)
Tear up how you describe & communicate “public health”

People believe who and what they trust rather than experts

yes, get good at the science of risk communication. See this piece as state of the art.

Get good at the art, telling stories, different ways of framing.

5)
Soft skills are as important as “anorak” skills
.
Spend time understanding what drives those you are trying to influence, understand their arguments better than they can
Skillset of being bilingual across multiple worlds and ability to carry influence = critical skill
PH Professional of the future = complex systems, linking and joining agendas, sense making,

6)
The world will be more automated. The system in which we operate will be different

Critical job = TRUST in the assurance process that goes around automated systems
TRUST must be built on professional underpinning, and we need to keep our professional training and integrity.
So we still need to understand the basics of the profession….and how the system is put together.
As an accountant = TRUSTED as an advisor to assure automated accounting processes.
This is definitely an OPPORTUNITY.

7)
Think about this now. Be prepared for the future
. Get new skills
What are the new skills I need, what are the skills that already exist that we harness onto a job with a common outcome
Analytics, OD theory, complex systems

Read – Suskind and Suskind – the future of academics in the AI world

A recent paper highlighted macro trends, the future and ways in which public health practice may need to adapt.

Areas where development may be needed include.

  • be honest brokers, e.g., providing balanced and culturally appropriate information to people and communities.
  • policy analysis,
  • communication,
  • evaluation
  • quality improvement,
  • deeper knowledge of and engagement with other sectors – particularly important if we are going to get into health in all policies in a serious way. See my points in this blog re credibility in policy areas not historically considered public health
  • Systems thinking and the use of systems methods [e.g., social network analysis, system dynamics modeling, and agent-based modeling
  • an entrepreneurial orientation that includes proactivity, innovativeness, and risk-taking
  • transformational ethics that will prevent us from actions that benefit the majority but hurt or do not help those already most in need.

Table 1 is particularly worth a look

The NESTA publication on Jobs and Skills in 2030 is also worth a look, it’s generic.

If we miss this somebody else will define the future for us. We may or may not like that. We may be subsumed into health care or other human services systems.

That may miss the broader mission, esp whole systems, services to people AND place, social justice, role around allocative efficiency.

The above underscores the need for curricular changes across all dimensions of public health academia will be needed to equip the public health practitioner of the future. I don’t know whether this is happening in academic institutions or the way in which professional bodies and standard setting organisations establish the required skill set for the profession. I hope it is.

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