The writer has a master's degree in economics. She enjoys researching and writing about economic and business issues.
The healthcare industry encompasses four major sectors, namely:
- health care services and facilities;
- medical devices, equipment and hospital supplies manufacturers;
- medical insurance, medical services and managed care;
- and pharmaceuticals and related segments.
With the advance of new technologies and impending risks of global pandemics like the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry must improvise to satisfy new customers’ demands. This report summarizes key trends in the healthcare industry for the global market in different sectors in the coming years to provide inputs for new product development. Here, I discuss the following points:
- Hospitals tend to become smaller and more specialized.
- Smart hospital facilities are on the rise.
- At-home care and virtual care are used more widely.
- Wearable devices continue to receive considerable interest.
- Minimally invasive and computer-powered surgeries are favored by patients.
- Generational factors greatly impact demands for medical insurance.
- Insurtech is predicted to shape the medical insurance and related sectors in 2020.
- AI-power and chatbots are increasingly used to provide healthcare consultancy.
- Personalized medicine is expected to gain popularity.
Hospitals Tend to Become Smaller and More Specialized
If in the past, the trend was towards bigger hospitals with capabilities to treat all types of diseases and patients at one place. Customers now demand more personalized care services, desiring to make their stay at the hospitals as comfortable and humane as possible. These micro hospitals not only provide customers with the services and comfort level that they need but also help hospitals to reduce operational and management costs as well (Baker, 2018).
Smart Hospital Facilities Are on the Rise
Smart hospitals refer to those that adopt and maximize the use of automatic processes with the support of new technologies such as Internet of Things, big data, cloud-computing, etc. to improve their services and enhance patient’s experience (ENISA, 2016). According to Data Bridge Market Research, the market for smart hospital was forecast to expand at an annual compound growth rate of more than 20% over the period from 2020 to 2027. The demand was driven by an improved hospital infrastructure and technologies, increasing living standards, widespread adopted of Internet of Things and connected devices, and big investment into healthcare sectors. Leading companies participating in smart hospital market include Koninklijke Philips N.V, Microsoft, McKesson Corporation, Philips, etc.
At-Home Care and Virtual Care Are Used More Widely
With the rapid development of health-tech, patients can receive medical care without having to leave their home. For example, there are various healthtech mobile application that provides a platform for patients and doctors/ care providers to connect, book appointment, receive consultation and even purchase prescribed medication online (Awasthi, 2020). Based on the medical records, patients can choose to visit a healthcare facility or request a physician to come to their home.
Wearable Devices Continue to Receive Considerable Interests
Wearable devices are smart electronic devices that users wear close or on their body. These devices utilize technologies and help users monitor their vital body information (for example, blood pressure, physical activities, sleep quality, food intake, etc.), surrounding environment data (for example, temperature, humidity, etc.) to keep track of their health. Globally, this market was estimated to be worth more than $32 billion in 2019 (USD), and increase at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 16% over the period of 2020 – 2027. Demand for wearable devices is also expected to be fueled by the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with more applications being invented to specifically help users to reduce the risks of being infected with the virus (Grand View Research, 2020).
Minimally Invasive and Computer-Powered Surgeries Are Favored by Patients
Currently, robotics has already been employed to conduct major and minor types of surgeries. With better technologies, robots can become more sophisticated and precise, and improve the quality of their services (Grand View Research, 2019). Some leading surgical robots include The da Vinci surgical system, Corpath, Monarch, Mako Rio, Versius. Although computer-powered surgeries have been applied for several types of surgeries and diseases only, there is no doubt about artificial intelligence and computers’ abilities to keep developing and become capable of performing more type of complicated surgeries.
Generational Factors Greatly Impact Demands for Medical Insurance
Generational factors greatly impact demands for medical insurance. For example, Generation X and Millennials are more likely to purchase insurance products than previous generations. Nevertheless, Millennial is also more prone to misjudge the real cost of insurance, thinking insurance is more expensive than it actually is.
However, Millennials and Generation Z are asking for increasingly individualized products, and combination products which integrate different types of benefits, cover newly-arisen risks and include new categories of beneficiaries (Scanlon, Leyes, & Fan, 2019). The products are also believed to help to alleviate long-term healthcare expenditures, which are very expensive in most countries.
Insurtech Is Predicted to Shape the Medical Insurance and Related Sectors in the Future
Insurtech refers to the application of new technologies such as AI and machine learning to insurance sector to enhance the efficiency of the services, improve customer experience, and reduce risks for both policy holders and insurance service providers. Leading InsurTech players include Atidot, Flamingo, Element, etc. (KPMG, 2019). With an increasing level of digital transformation, more and more insurance company participate in the digitalization race. For example, American International Group, one of the biggest health insurance providers in the world, pledged to invest up to US$1.3 billion in the next 3 years to speed up its digitalization efforts and modernize its core operational programs (Hollmer, 2020).
AI-Power and Chatbots Are Increasingly Used to Provide Healthcare Consultancy
Chatbots can be incorporated into healthcare intervention or can be used independently to provide consultancy services to patients. For example, for mental health diseases, which was estimated to account for 28% of total healthcare demand in 2016, AI-powered chatbots can help to offer initial talks with patients, screen their needs and then direct them to the right healthcare programs/ personnel, or give them self-help resources immediately (Cameron, et al., 2017). When visiting healthcare providers’ websites or using their mobile applications, customers are very likely to talk to a chatbot than a real worker.
Personalized Medicine Is Expected to Gain Popularity
Each individual is unique with his/ her own DNA, characteristics, tastes and references. Hence, no disease/ virus has the exact same impact on different people. Hence, in order to provide higher-quality care to each individual, tailoring to their own mental/ physical condition and types of illness, personalized medicine is studied more extensively. Medical components, doses, etc. can be modified to suit a particular case, resulting in better treatment outcome. For instance, in cancer treatment, personalized medicine is applied more vastly based on the specific generic mutations to lead to the best response (Vogenberg, Barash, & Pursel, 2010).
- Awasthi, P. (2020). Five health-tech apps to connect with doctors virtually. Retrieved from The Hindu Business Line: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/info-tech/five-health-tech-apps-to-connect-with-doctors-virtually/article31481190.ece
- Baker, M. (2018). The trend in healthcare: smaller and more specialized. Retrieved March 2021, from https://rejournals.com/the-trend-in-healthcare-smaller-and-more-specialized/
- Cameron, G., Cameron, D., Megaw, G., Bond, R., Mulvenna, M., O’Neill, S., . . . McTear, M. (2017). Towards a chatbot for digital counselling. Proceedings of British HCI 2017 –Digital, 1-7.
- Data Bridge Market Research. (2020). Smart Hospital Market Size, Global Industry Analysis, Technological Trends 2020-2027 With 20.2% CAGR |Microsoft, Allscripts Healthcare, LLC, Cerner, McKesson, Intel, NVIDIA, Welltok, Medtronic. Cape Town: Data Bridge Market Research.
- ENISA. (2016). Smart Hospitals Security and Resilience for Smart Health Service and Infrastructure. European Union Agency For Network And Information Security.
- Grand View Research. (2019). General Surgery Devices Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Application (Orthopedic Surgery, Plastic Surgery), By Type (Medical Robotics & Computer-assisted, Disposable), And Segment Forecasts, 2019 - 2026. San Francisco: Grand View Research.
- Grand View Research. (2020). Wearable Technology Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Product (Wrist-wear, Eye-wear & Head-wear, Foot-wear, Neck-wear, Body-wear), By Application, By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2020 - 2027. San Francisco: Grand View Research.
- Hollmer, M. (2020, February). AIG Maps Out Major Investment in Technology, Core Processes. Retrieved from Insurance Journal: https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2020/02/14/558458.htm
- KPMG. (2019). Insurtech 10: Trends for 2019. KPMG International.
- Scanlon, J., Leyes, M., & Fan, M. (2019). 2019 Insurance Barometer Report. LL Global, Inc.
- Vogenberg, F. R., Barash, C. I., & Pursel, M. (2010). Personalized Medicine. Pharmacy and Therapeutics , 560-562.
- WHO. (2020, July). More than 150 countries engaged in COVID-19 vaccine global access facility. Retrieved from WHO: https://www.who.int/news/item/15-07-2020-more-than-150-countries-engaged-in-covid-19-vaccine-global-access-facility
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Liz Westwood from UK on February 21, 2021:
This article highlights interesting developments in the healthcare sector as it adopts and uses advances in technology.