The weakness of the present healthcare system revealed by the Covid-19 crisis, along with the rise in chronic diseases associated with lifestyle changes and a rapidly ageing population worldwide will shape the future of healthcare.
Future healthcare will be driven by the developments taking root in the following three key segments.
Digital health – In order to strike a balance between curbing costs and maintaining a high level of patient care, healthcare professionals around the world are increasingly integrating digital-health technologies into their practice.
Not only will this approach reduce patients’ out-of-pocket spending on their medical needs, but it will also free up capacities at clinics and hospitals.
The extent of the Covid-19 outbreak will merely hasten the further digital transformation of healthcare to improve patient care. With this in mind, we believe that the three major segments underpinning digital health are: telemedicine, mobile health and medtech.
Genomics – By sequencing the DNA of the virus, epidemiologists and researchers hope that they can eventually identify the origin of the coronavirus, how it spreads and, hopefully, how the outbreak can be defeated.
The search for Covid-19 treatments will encourage more research and development into genomics, heralding in an era of tailor-made gene-based diagnosis and treatments for infectious and other non-infectious, deadly diseases.
Extended Longevity – The vulnerability of old age to the infectious disease has led to growing calls for better nursing and long-term care facilities, as well as a greater focus on preventive measures via health monitoring and personalised treatments associated with ageing.
The Covid-19 pandemic may very well be a watershed moment for the healthcare industry, as it has certainly laid bare the weakness of the entire health value chain, from citizens to international health institutions.
At the same time, the pandemic has given greater impetus to strengthen our resilience for present and future health threats, through greater adoption of digital-health technologies and other innovative solutions such as gene-based therapies.
It is for this reason that governments and public health officials around the world should work hand-in -hand with the global scientific community to turn the corona crisis into an opportunity by thoroughly re-examining the vulnerabilities of international and domestic public-health systems and working towards removing them.
In this regard, technology holds great promise.
Yet we should not give in to the fervent pursuit of ever-newer and greater technologies at the expense of the human aspect of healthcare, including collaborating with others, talking with others and listening to others.
We should pay heed to Albert Einstein’s warning: “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”
The future of healthcare will be shaped by favourable structural trends and developments in the industry.
In particular, areas that are related to digital health, genomics and extended longevity should see further upside potential over the longer term, given the political tailwinds, momentous demographic forces around the world, the rise of chronic diseases associated with ageing, as well as ever-rising medical costs.
In this context, therefore, we are of the opinion that long-term investors should maintain a positive stance on the healthcare investment theme.
The author works in next generation research at Bank Julius Baer