2021 HEALTHCARE TRENDS 4th March 2021
Healthcare has always been crucial to our lives, however in the last year it has taken up a central position that could remain forever. The pandemic has not only threatened our very existence, but it has also made us question what really matters in our lives and how we want to live when normal life returns. When health is lost all else pales into insignificance. Noticing the failures of our traditional systems, we’ve been forced to review how we provide healthcare and how we manage the human condition. Consequently, there has been a surge in innovation and a notably fast adoption of these advancements. Below we explore these areas of growth that are fundamentally going to shape the future of healthcare and wellbeing.
TELEHEALTH: THE RISE OF TELEMEDICINE
Virtual doctor visits have skyrocketed during the pandemic, and this is only the beginning as the technology improves and more people gain access to broadband and smartphones, the scale of telemedicine will increase. “Patient adoption at the beginning of 2020 was up 33% over the previous year, while funding has been booming and the market is expected to reach $185.6 billion by 2026.”
When patients were asked what would encourage them to book a telemedicine appointment, convenience factors, including:
- easy-to-use technology (69%)
- communication (57%)
- online scheduling capabilities and immediate appointment availability (47%)
These factors are largely driving adoption (Doctor.com)
Along with contributing to convenience from both the user and healthcare professional sides, it is also a huge logistical advantage that can benefit places where doctors are in short supply and help not over-crowd polyclinics. Moreover, these apps have a great opportunity to store patient data and evolve into monitoring capabilities to help patients manage the likes of chronic diseases.
VIRTUAL CARE: AR & VR IN HEALTHCARE
The global market of digital health VR is expected to grow to $2.4 billion by 2026, due to its potential to eliminate the need for certain medications or surgeries – currently it’s being used and tested to treat chronic pain, mental health and in some cases, it’s being trialled as a rehabilitation tool for patients who’ve suffered a stroke or who have Alzheimer’s, amongst other issues.
Artificial intelligence is likely to play a key role in the digital transformation of healthcare. In fact, the AI healthcare market is expected to exceed $34 billion by 2025. The future of AI integration lies in precision medicine and treatment personalisation amongst others, depending on the data and machine-learning ability there are many opportunities. The capabilities of AI not only have the potential to better cater to individual health needs it also has major cost-saving implications, Accenture predicts that the top AI applications may result in annual savings of $150 billion by 2026.
Like anything while the possibilities seem endless, the success of these new technologies will represent a fine balance between ‘access, affordability, and effectiveness’ – “It’s going to take years to get the full promise, but it does bring a particular tool into the dialogue that was never before available,” says Kaveh Safavi, head of Accenture’s global health practice.
WEARABLES: EMPOWERING THE PATIENT
From heart rate sensors, exercise monitors to diabetic blood sugar oximonitors, wearables are able to give patients the opportunity to self-monitor and better manage their needs and conditions.
According to Statista, the number of wearable devices worldwide will double between 2019 and 2022. The potential is there, and patients are welcoming these innovations, research from Insider Intelligence says that more than 80% of consumers are willing to wear fitness technology.
These self-monitoring solutions also benefit healthcare facilities to save money especially for treating chronic illnesses, moreover, providers are able to gather more data and insight across various health conditions and in real time information about patient’s situation. According to Business Insider, the demand for wearables is projected to jump in the next few years as more consumers exhibit interest in sharing their wearable data with their providers and insurers.
COME TOGETHER: CROSS-SECTOR COLLABORATIONS
Healthcare organisations will face tougher competition in attracting and retaining patients who demand an experience that matches the level of customer service they expect from other consumer brands. Therefore, many health providers should look at cross-sector collaborations to be able to cater, attract and sustain customers of tomorrow.
A recent example includes the UK-based employee health monitoring service Well.Me has partnered with Bupa to expand employee health tracking in UK workplaces, with a potential roll-out to over two million employees. On the other hand, you have Vitality which has partnered with Fitbit and essentially connecting the wearable to become part of its’ insurance reward scheme – ‘rewards you for being healthy’.
In addition to this, some relationships between technology companies and health providers will become inevitable. For instance, Apple Health ‘Health Records’ on iPhone will profoundly impact the logistics of storing medical data along with the communication and exchange of information between providers.
HOLISTIC WELLNESS: WELLBEING-CENTRIC LIFESTYLES.
With profound challenges facing global healthcare systems there are opportunities for brands to tap into existing gaps in health and fitness and become wellbeing partners to their customers. According to Statista, the revenue from the top 10 fitness and healthcare apps increased by 61% last year to reach a smashing $327 million globally. Moreover, the number of fitness app users is expected to surpass 353 million by 2022.
Health, longevity and convenience will converge, with consumers looking for wellbeing across everything they do. For instance, we can definitely see how corporate wellbeing is rising, from the prevalence of chronic diseases linked to sedentary lifestyles to the actual economic benefits offered by these programs, wellness initiatives are now playing a significant role in the job market. According to Business Insider Intelligence research, a healthier corporate culture reduces employee turnover. Employers that offer five or more health best practices to their staff reported having an average turnover of 18%. Organisations that offer two or fewer such practices saw a turnover of 29%.
Some great examples include the likes of Mall of America incorporating healthcare services with its walk in clinic and a partnership with LuluLemon – an “experiential store” that is now your one-stop shop for health and wellness.
We can see even the likes of banks taking on a health strategy by incorporating yoga studios such as Virgin Money in its Manchester branch. On the other hand, Six Senses the hotel, wellness club and spa are set to open a combination of a hotel & residential space in London. Allowing people to experience the Six Senses wellness offerings as part of their day-to-day lifestyles.
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