Sometimes it’s hard to keep in mind that healthcare was once considered a stodgy, conservative industry—at least by outsiders. Advances in care development and delivery happened, but the healthcare experience was generally the same as it had been decades before, as were the business models leveraged across the healthcare landscape. We’d grown, maybe not comfortable with, but accepting of the status quo.
My, how times have changed. Sure, much of the healthcare experience remains unchanged (for now), but change has become a constant. The industry has caught up with the digital era to the extent that the words “healthcare” and “innovation” justifiably belong in the same sentence.
My colleague Dharmendra Sahay and I recently were invited to co-author a chapter in the Global Innovation Index 2019. The report, which is produced via a partnership between Cornell’s SC Johnson College of Business, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization, is filled with insights from healthcare industry leaders and academics from around the world, covering everything from preventative care, to data and analytics, to the role of particle physics research in medical innovation.
Sahay and I contributed a chapter called “Trends in Healthcare and Medical Innovation” in which we laid out five key underlying trends that will revolutionize global healthcare. Three of these trends focus on technology and two are related to the human world. The majority of these trends are already being felt in other industries, which gives the healthcare industry the chance to learn from those industries’ successes and challenges. The five trends are as follows:
1. The explosion of information globally: The internet, broadband and smartphones have penetrated the far corners of the planet. The growing digital access doesn’t just allow for the seamless transmission of information between health experts and patients. It also enables data to be stored in a centralized way, which makes data access more convenient. And the increasing data access and availability is arming healthcare providers and partners with the necessary information to identify prevalent illnesses and key drivers, and to devise appropriate treatments.
2. Artificial intelligence: Fueled by individual data sets and cross-sectional population data, AI can help fill gaps due to lack of healthcare training, and can help providers to accurately predict, diagnose and identify illnesses and treatments.
3. Customized treatments for patients: With genomics data becoming available, the medical community is in a better position to create and develop customized treatments and curative therapies for patients. It won’t be long before we see the development of highly effective, niche medicines with the help of biomarkers.
4. Consumerism: Especially in the developed world, healthcare consumers expect an enhanced experience and quality medical services at affordable prices. They’re also increasingly savvy about gathering information to make better decisions and they can become easily frustrated when they can’t. This is inspiring healthcare providers and manufacturers to design better services for consumers.
5. The fading of traditional business models: The delineations between healthcare’s traditional sectors—such as payers, providers, distributors and manufacturers—are beginning to break down as vertical integration continues. The traditional sectors are being replaced by health management organizations and experts that are providing multiple services under one “roof.” Moreover, public-private partnerships are enabling an ecosystem in which technology will play a pivotal role in providing health services.
The global healthcare industry is transforming into a more modern, IT-led and innovation-fueled ecosystem. The transition will impact both the developed and developing worlds, and is expected to augment life expectancy and quality of life. Though the premise is exciting, the pace of progress will depend on the ability of a diverse set of stakeholders across public and private sectors to work together toward a common goal.
Read our full insights in chapter three of the Global Innovation Index 2019.