In the previous blogs of this three-part series on preventative care, we introduced the scope of this fantastic market, and presented some exciting new technologies. In this article, we will specifically explore the growth drivers and characteristics of our modern-day healthcare market that are fostering and defining the preventative care products and services market.
Money makes the world go around
Ever rising healthcare costs drive the need to seek and encourage cheaper, less invasive, simpler, more proactive and patient-steered/managed illness prevention.
Population health management
e.g. the expansion of public insurance and basic (preventative) healthcare services…
As more nations globally introduce and or expand existing public healthcare programs, the opportunity for individuals to seek preventative care services has been growing in correlation. Basic healthcare packages typically include a range of free or highly subsidized secondary and tertiary preventative care services. This indicates that governments are deliberately budgeting for -and incrementally encouraging- the procurement of preventative care. E.g. many vaccinations are free of charge and awareness campaigns (e.g. tobacco, family-planning, or fitness related) are frequently initiated by national healthcare authorities, including lesser income nations.
Currently the USA, one of the biggest spenders on healthcare globally, lists the following in their basic healthcare package, free of charge for US public healthcare enrollees:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm one-time screeningfor men of specified ages who have ever smoked
- Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
- Aspirin use to prevent cardiovascular disease for men and women of certain ages
- Blood pressure screening
- Cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages or at higher risk
- Colorectal cancer screening for adults over 50
- Depression screening
- Diabetes (Type 2) screening for adults with high blood pressure
- Diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease
- Hepatitis B screening for people at high risk, including people from countries with 2% or more Hepatitis B prevalence, and U.S.-born people not vaccinated as infants and with at least one parent born in a region with 8% or more Hepatitis B prevalence.
- Hepatitis C screening for adults at increased risk, and one time for everyone born 1945 – 1965
- HIV screening for everyone ages 15 to 65, and other ages at increased risk
- Immunization vaccines for adults — doses, recommended ages, and recommended populations vary:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Herpes Zoster
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Influenza (flu shot)
- Varicella (Chickenpox)
- Lung cancer screening for adults 55 – 80 at high risk for lung cancer because they’re heavy smokers or have quit in the past 15 years
- Obesity screening and counseling
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention counseling for adults at higher risk
- Syphilis screening for adults at higher risk
- Tobacco Use screening for all adults and cessation interventions for tobacco users
Emerging new technologies
New technologies and solutions are continuously appearing on the market. Either in the form of completely new and unique innovations, or as renewals and improvements upon existing technologies and applications. New technologies can disrupt or build upon existing trends.
As new technologies and technological and digital capabilities are discovered and presented, a multitude of new applications and improvements can be found and employed to foster personal health and healthcare structures.
A great example of the aforementioned new technologies, e-Health solutions are driving a whole realm of (often) affordable, easily accessible and highly prevention-oriented digital applications.
Recently, a private firm in the UK teamed up with the National Healthcare Service (NHS) and marketed the smartphone application Babylon. This application is in effect a complete online consultation service, starting off with an interactive chat that pursues diagnostic questions, allowing the patient to proceed with an online face-to-face consultation with a qualified physician if they choose so, followed by the option of ordering and even home-delivering a prescribed medication when needed. What also creates added-value within the application, is a rating system that provides quality feedback of the participating physicians that are available for digital consultation.
Babylon is a particularly interesting example as it encompasses many key issues of modern healthcare management:
- Public-private sector collaboration
- Digital new technology, i.e. online/smartphone application
- Mobile and home-based care
- Improved accessibility to healthcare (since it is accessible online, even remote areas can benefit from its services)
- Connectable to wearables, home health-indicator test kits, and entails an inbuilt health-status awareness and promotion function
- Patient empowerment (since users can rate their physicians and choose their physician)
Rise of government-prescribed vaccinations
Organizations such as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), part of the US’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention, create the recommendations and guidelines for nationwide vaccination practices. As these recommended vaccination lists grow, in any given nation, so does the demand for vaccination products.
Pursuing value-based care
Rather self-explanatory, value-based care seeks to maximize positive healthcare outcomes with the most affordable care means. Investing in maintaining the preexisting good health and functions of a person creates the highest possible value. Value-based care is a key cornerstone of preventative care.
Over 50% of deaths worldwide are preventable – Statistics vary widely, but overall, there is a consensus that over half of the deaths annually can be attributed to preventable diseases (including environmental and sanitary factors, accidents, communicable diseases and lifestyle-related mortalities).
Diabetes alone, a condition intrinsically attributed to dietary choices, causes diminished life quality and drives up long-term healthcare needs for over 390 million individuals worldwide.
A healthy elderly population
The frequently mentioned ageing of our population and the related costs and structural changes that must be made to accommodate their care needs, could be significantly ameliorated if these ageing individuals entered the elderly stages of their life in good health, with high mobility and autonomy.
Ethnic discrepancies in preventative care use
Market investigators have discovered that there are clear gaps in the use of preventative care between ethnic groups. This is attributed to cultural and linguistic differences and barriers between patient and physician.
The UK, Japan, Germany and Mexico stand out for having initiated strategical efforts to manage their national healthcare demands with a more determined focus on preventative care. Many other nations have also voiced a clear commitment to preventative care.
Mexico, one of the lowest spenders on healthcare within the OECD group, is strongly focused on the expansion and reinforcement of its primary care sector, as a means of proactively reducing illness-development all together. It aims to stimulate and create a widespread professional and personal approach to illness prevention and risk reduction. (To learn more about Mexico’s healthcare system, please have a look out the latest TforG Country Report on Mexico 2017 and the TforG Sweetspot Blog featuring Mexican healthcare expenditure and financing.)
A Disruptive Trend? – Be aware of current and future opportunities…
Understandably, concerns will arise when high-revenue generating medtech devices are no longer as steeply in demand as a direct result of less individuals falling ill. E.g. less long-term ill patients equal less products and services to be sold to treat them over a long period; this equals less revenues for existing medtech manufacturers targeting these chronic conditions. Clearly a complete and immediate sectoral switch to preventative care product development and marketing would have devastating impacts, since R&D investments and finding cures must continue in order to treat the current and future illnesses affecting populations.
As this article aims to point out, preventative care is an inevitability to conciliate effective population healthcare management and ever increasing healthcare costs. Many healthcare management strategists and practitioners are already on board, along with a wide selection of biotech, pharma, medtech and software manufacturers/developers.
In the spirit of believing that mutually beneficial solutions (i.e. for the procuring and the producing parties) are always the most consistent revenue and business drivers, it is highly recommendable to investigate ways how one’s business can suit the preventative care wave, since this market is and will continue to grow exponentially. Evidently, do not be concerned if your product does not fall within the preventative care category or within your business interests, as we are doubtlessly still centuries (or an eternity) removed from a human-illness panacea. Simply be aware of this movement, its immense potential and benefits, and be prepared.
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About Laura Weynants
Performs primary and secondary market research to create country reports at TforG. Interviews KOLs and medical sector professionals to build on TforG’s healthcare market expertise and competence networks. Complementing five years of sustainability policy and CSR communication, she now focuses on grasping key medical market trends, structures and opportunities in medical sectors worldwide. Coming from an international background of living in Germany, Spain, USA, UK and Belgium, she has gained a keen insight in international organizations and language skills to perform first hand investigations. She graduated from Sussex University Brighton, UK with a BA English Literature and Sociology and achieved a Master Degree in Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility in EOI Business School in Madrid, Spain.