With the Covid 19 pandemic exerting a significant toll on the global healthcare sector, stakeholders are increasingly looking towards future steps to mitigate similar events and devise appropriate responses to incoming threats.
Promising Healthcare Avenues – Areas Requiring Attention
With the pandemic exposing the gaps in the conventional healthcare system, the current landscape is optimal for new and existing stakeholders to amplify their involvement in the healthcare sector. DIF research points to several key areas that offer promising opportunities for growth and development.
Anti-microbial Resistance (AMR)
AMR has emerged as a significant area of concern for the medical sector with risks of pushing back healthcare before pre-antibiotic times. Key risk elements include unmonitored prescriptions, unmitigated antibiotic usage, and a lack of effective control measures.
According to a recent report by the World Health Organization, over 700,000 people lose their lives annually to drug-resistant diseases.
This figure is expected to further increase in the upcoming years with the prospect of over 10 million causalities by 2050. It is essential for stakeholders to address existing challenges and reduce the threat posed by AMR. Investments in new antibiotics and AMR mitigation are essential areas of potential interest for investors.
Despite the efforts made to improve pandemic response during the Covid 19 pandemic, lessons from the current pandemic have still not been used to prepare for potential pandemics in the future effectively. Potential Epidemic threats, including Ebola, Malaria, Zika, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), are still at risk of fast spreads around the world. In 2016, the spread of the SARS virus resulted in a loss of over $53 Billion in lost productivity and output.
The wider spread of these viruses could have potentially detrimental impacts due to the unpreparedness of the global healthcare community. Investments in resources to mitigate the spread of future pandemics can be an effective way to mount an appropriate response to future challenges and mitigate the extent of global damage.
Technological Innovation and Collaboration
A key factor in the spread of the Covid 19 virus was the lack of collaboration between major international stakeholders. Rapid changes in technology over the past few years have transformed patient treatment worldwide. Technologies including Artificial Intelligence and blockchain are being actively used in predictive healthcare, medical records, and genome editing to deliver better responses to challenges.
Equitable delivery of medical services is an essential requirement to prevent the global spread of viruses in the upcoming years. Goals such as the United Nations Social Development Goals are a guiding factor in paving the way towards global collaboration and innovative healthcare products to make an impact. Potential investors can focus on collaborative platforms and technological frameworks to enhance health care response in challenged communities.
Looking Ahead – Key Healthcare Trends in 2022
As the world recovers from different Covid 19 variants and looks towards a comprehensive economic recovery, DIF anticipates an increased focus on digital healthcare, mobilization, and consumer-centric products. Investors are looking for effective healthcare solutions that are able to cater to potential threats in the sector with an affordable approach.
Here are the five trends identified by the DIF team for the next year.
Enhanced Diagnostic Tools – During the pandemic, companies have explored the potential of diagnostic tools and platforms that simplify the process for consumers. Companies with well-defined infrastructures were able to mount an effective response to the pandemic with affordable products. Moving onwards, we expect to see the development of more effective diagnostic options that make it easier for consumers to monitor their health in domestic environments.
Examples of this phenomenon have been observed in the form of the rapid Covid 19 antigen test that has allowed customers to have an accurate assessment of their status. Other home diagnostics and monitoring tools include pulse oximeters, have also proven to be effective in improving customer awareness and potential response to infections.
New Investors Will Enter Healthcare – With a significant downturn witnessed in other industry segments like hospitality, transportation, and entertainment, investors are eyeing the healthcare segment to identify existing opportunities. Hedge funds that were previously focused on other industrial segments are now embracing opportunities in the healthcare sector by investing in upcoming startups and companies. While this will pave the way to better opportunities for companies, it will also lead to elevated valuations in the sector as a whole.
More Acquisitions and Mergers – 2021 was a significant year in the healthcare sector in terms of mergers and new partnerships. Companies like UnitedHealth acquired Change Healthcare to introduce streamlined payment management and administrative support. Humana partners with private equity partners to introduce a broader range of care providers across the country. This trend is anticipated to continue in 2022, with further collaborations planned to introduce innovative healthcare options for consumers.
Consumer Healthcare Spending Increase – The recent pandemic and its variants has made global consumers aware of the importance of healthcare management. The pandemic served as a major accelerant in speeding up consumer spending in their wellbeing and broader healthcare. Selfcare monitoring tools and booster supplements are expected to grow at unprecedented rates as consumers look towards technology to provide them with viable solutions.
Virtual Healthcare Applications – With the metaverse leading the way as the hottest topic of this year, virtual healthcare applications are expected to take the forefront in the upcoming years. While consumer purchasing in virtual healthcare increased in comparison to previous years, the development and improvement of virtual technology and ecosystems are expected to expand the prospects of the industry.
Telemedicine is expected to be amongst the fastest growing Medicare segment with prospects of improving rural healthcare and employee care. The introduction of hybrid healthcare models centered around telemedicine and in-person visits is also another key factor why investors need to pay attention to the prospects in the virtual healthcare industry.
Healthcare Funding and Changing Dynamics
The direction of the healthcare industry is shifting from volume-driven solutions to personalized healthcare. Effective private-public partnerships are central to delivering the optimal modality of solutions for patient needs. Collaborative competition is another positive factor that emerged during the pandemic. These collaborations need to be enhanced to provide optimal care and explore viable solutions to potential challenges. Singular governmental and private responses are no longer adequate to address the challenges faced by healthcare in 2022.
Equity in Healthcare – DIF Insight
Even though extensive attention has been given to the disparity in global healthcare services, further investments need to be made in establishing global healthcare equity to prevent the spread of viruses and conditions around the world.
The application of tracking technologies and tools will be central in delivering required responses to global communities based on the consensus of the medical community. DIF experts have identified data to be the central facet of delivering the required medical response and making key decisions across healthcare. Investors need to focus on consolidating medical resources and making them accessible in challenged communities to address patient concerns in vulnerable segments