Recent Trends in Healthcare Industry
It is well established that healthcare infrastructure is extremely important today. From classroom debates to political manifestos, healthcare is being discussed at all levels, i.e. what should be the structure, who will pay for it, and how it should get implemented. Developed nations such as the US spend as much as ~17% of their GDP on healthcare, while the same figure, although low, is increasing for many developing countries. People across the world are asking questions to their government about quality and cost-effective healthcare. A report by PwC puts the global healthcare market at USD 9.59 Trillion, larger than the GDP of the entire African continent and many large developed/developing countries taken individually.
Governments are also putting more and more effort into bringing the best healthcare infrastructure to their people. They are teaming up with private companies (public-private partnerships) and leveraging the technology so that healthcare is economical and accessible to everyone.
The sector, once extremely traditional, is changing fast because of innovation in technology and business model. More and more players are entering the market and governments, once the sole service provider, are taking the back seat and letting private companies build the infrastructure as well as deliver the services. The industry operates on several levels’ viz. Big Data and Analytics, Digital Diagnostics, EHR and Clinical Workflow, Post-acute solutions and Hospital Administration. While some of these have existed for quite some time now, many have pioneered an entirely new industry. One such example is big data that has, in recent years, involved many interdisciplinary experts to work along with medical expert and develop some amazing solutions to modern world healthcare related problems.
Needless to say, the healthcare industry is not only here to stay, but will very likely change the way healthcare is perceived by everyone.
The Reactive vs Proactive Approach
Healthcare models have been reactive till date with the establishment of centralized infrastructure like hospitals and other all-inclusive outfits for surgery and therapy. Now, we see the shift towards the proactive model – here, a decentralized, unit-based approach is taken. Efforts are being taken to empower each individual with the necessary monitoring, diagnostic and preventive tools in the form of wearable accessories, application-based testing (smartphones and otherwise), highly mobile forms of healthcare consultation, therapy and treatment – and finally, the consolidation of patient data in secure data vaults for reference and prognosis.
In short, a reactive approach is not only bad for patients, but bad for service providers too because of the mismatch between demand and supply and the appropriate time. A proactive approach, on the other hand, gives control to patients and allows them to choose the mode and time of delivery of services while at the same time giving doctors more relevant information for the best possible diagnosis.
Aging population is yet another indicator for a shift in operating models for healthcare. Elderly healthcare is a necessity that will fast become dogma for the industry as a whole. The fact that access needs to be brought to them rather than them seeking it actively is what strikes true – care-giving programs need to be necessarily of the ‘on-demand’ nature, supplemented with easy to use technology for an efficient solution.
Fast-paced work culture, coupled with our varied and non-regulated eating habits, irregular sleeping hours in amped-up work environments around the globe and the spread of new chronic diseases will need attention more than ever before – hence, the proactive model is better suited for these, since reactive models boast infrastructure that is nowhere close to being mobile, flexible or even easy to use. Improving general access to healthcare will be a big note to hit.
A white-paper by Appster (which crunches reports by PwC, Accenture and the like) on healthcare shows some pioneering innovations in healthcare.
- Wearables and bio-sensing technology
- Analytics and Big Data (for aggregating use cases and research)
- Healthcare Consumer Engagement (Direct purchase of healthcare products for businesses – mostly B2B models, with some B2C concerns)
- Telemedicine/Telehealth (Our topic and its concern – the delivery of healthcare services, remotely)
- Enterprise Wellness (Employee well-being centered ventures in big enterprises)
- EHR and Clinical Workflow (Electronic Healthcare Records and surrounding applications)
Focus: Online Healthcare
Put simply, online healthcare is the universe of all services delivered through digital technologies such as mobile/computer devises, internet, etc. We would avoid using the term ‘telemedicine’ because it presents a narrow scope of healthcare services and limits an otherwise extremely diverse industry to just remote scanning, testing through devices, and consultations over audio/video media.
To understand Online Healthcare Services better, let us deconstruct it further into its various modalities. Thematically, it can be divided into:-
- Virtual Consultations
- Remote Monitoring
- Storage and Forwarding
- Integrated Online Healthcare
- Synchronous and Anachronous Online Healthcare
Virtual Consultations refer to doctor-patient interface on an online platform. Patients can see their doctors remotely and seek medical advice and prescriptions. In addition, the virtual network can even extend to remote agencies which can act upon the advice of the doctor, allowing the provider to operate seamlessly despite not being physically present on-site.
Remote monitoring is all about accessing the patient’s health profile and data remotely for the sake of analyzing and monitoring it. The elderly and those susceptible to chronic diseases benefit greatly, as timely care and recovery can be enabled if they are monitored.
Storage and forwarding is the Big Data side of the business, which allows for the secure storage of patient information, so that providers can consult and collaborate to engineer solutions and healthcare plans for patients. This also works for huge data banks, which can be integrated with an IoT approach in the case of governments who seek to provide healthcare to a large population effectively.
Integrated Online Healthcare is the on-site application of the virtual portals which can summon the doctor, the machine or whatever else that is required in the process. While some still restrict it to the virtual sector, we augment this definition by including timely arrivals in the form of old-fashioned house calls using new, avant-garde technology.
Lastly, the aspects of Synchronous and Anachronous Online Healthcare. These simply refer to digital technology based treatments and consultations being implemented in real-time, or otherwise.
Online Healthcare: A Burgeoning Industry
The online healthcare market has reached unprecedented heights, much like the healthcare industry on the whole. This business wire article put the global digital healthcare market at USD 21Bn and expects it to grow at ~24% (CAGR). Of course, these figures are not adjusted for the effects of Covid-19, and are likely to be even more impressive than the current numbers. MarketWatch recently put the expected CAGR at a whopping ~39%.
While covid has impacted many businesses, some positively and many others negatively, online healthcare has two of the most important words when it comes to industries definitively gaining from the worldwide pandemic. Because of this precise reason, there has been increasing interest among the investors from both the governments and private groups/individual entities.
Some primary drivers for the above trends are:-
- The aging population and widening caregiver shortage for the elderly
- A demand for easily accessible healthcare
- Governmental Initiatives to boost this sector
- A focus on savings, as potential costs are great with inefficient systems in place, and
- The global trend that has forced people to remain within the safety of their homes because of Covid-19.
Home Care, and On-demand care are particularly lucrative sectors as far as Virtual Healthcare is concerned. The extant systems are plagues with rust and a lack of innovation – over that, they incur significant costs and losses due to said inefficiency and the standard of healthcare thus suffers. Most brick and mortar agencies have not displayed an adaptive, agile approach, and the new entrants intend to take full advantage.
Engineering Your Next Disruption?
The whole preamble above was to basically spur you, the potential entrepreneur, to look at Telehealth with a discerning eye.
The advent of this industry simply indicates a newer path that you need to examine – the fact that providers will now be based increasingly outside the typical hospital-clinic scenario, onto these virtual platforms and remote agencies.
The AMB Telehealth Industry overview suggests that for patients, it is indeed all about accessibility. Which means, your foray has to solve that fundamental problem and plug it.
Over 72% of patients, according to the AMB report, are willing to see a doctor virtually. Over 76% prefer access to the service rather than to the physical NEED to see a doctor, and over 70% prefer to get their prescriptions online. The numbers tell you the story of an urgent need that you can channel to your next disruptive advantage.
For most of these, apps are now the whole rage. The dissemination of healthcare apps on the market is now immense – while some scratch the surface like fitness monitoring apps and the like, others like BrainCheck solve systemic problems and are very helpful.
Does this not sound familiar to the on-demand model? In the case of Uber, the millennials indicated that they’d rather be moved from A to B than own their own car, or have the hassles of owning one. For other stagnant enterprises, it is pretty much the same – people now want access and easy access at that, regardless of the medium over which it is being transmitted. In fact, people are comfortable with the virtual medium more than ever before, as technology is integrated into several facets of our lives.
If you’re looking to engineer your next disruption in some sector, we vouch for Telehealth. Not only are the economic benefits immense, but there are obvious social benefits. The sanctity of life can be preserved by your next disruption – no long waiting queues, overhead costs, time constraints and mobility problems for the elderly – a solution which can provide that is a boon, both for you as an individual and for society at large, where healthcare has become such an issue for conventional modes of operation.
We, at Panther, can even help with this venture, considering the fact that we do have several clients in this industry who seek our powerful online consultation platform for such concerns. Get in touch with us right away – ideas and conversations may only begin with your proactivity.