[Dated 27 Feb 2020 (3 minute read)]

StartWrightBy StartWright Business Solutions

Everyone is talking about technological trends across sectors. Add AI, Machine learning, NLP and 5G to any conversation, and you have their attention. However, I am not going to add any more value to the tons of information already sitting on the internet on the major technological advances that will lead change in the healthcare industry. The focus of my article today is the opportunities in the healthcare sector, that start with solving real consumer needs with the use of technology. Here is a peek into the top 5 trends in health-tech to watch out for in 2020.

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  1. TeleClinics/ Express Clinics

We have all seen the impact of Covid-19 since its outbreak around December 2019 in Hubei province in China. As of date, there are over 79000 reported cases all over the world of which over 2600 have died. The good news is more than 16000 have recovered, even as countries all over the world fight to detect and contain the spread of the pandemic. The rise of the pandemic and most importantly the spread to over 30 countries in such a short period of time shows the exponential transmission rate of the disease even though it is not air borne and can pass only through physical contact. It is at these times that one can truly appreciate the boon of TeleCinics/ Express Clinics, that has hitherto eluded the appreciation and wide adoption that the initiative deserves. Here is how an Express clinic works: It is a communication platform that helps you get the doctor consultation from a remote location via chat, telephone and video. The idea is to provide easy and fast healthcare access to patients for routine diagnosis and consultation. You can pay online, and the medicines can get delivered to your doorsteps as well. This in turn, also helps hospitals/ health clinics maximise their reach and productivity in an environment that is a sanitised and convenient for the patients.

Taking basic healthcare digital, also means patients and doctors have full transparency. The app can store health history that can be shared with online and offline doctors. As the world gets more and more connected, it is imperative to use technology for improving access to basic healthcare from the comfort of one’s home or office or a nearby location, while also containing the spread of communicable diseases.

The global market for telemedicine (which also includes telehome) is expected to surpass US$ 103 Billion by 2026, as per the Global Telemedicine Markets report by Businesswire. The highest growth in this sector will be led by the Asia-Pacific region, with emphasis on India, China, and Japan.

  1. Eldercare

The demography of the world is changing, and the Asian consumer is not far behind. Moreover, the advent of nuclear families that broke the norm sometime during mid 70’s, is coming back to hit the same 70’s generation who find themselves at the receiving end of today’s inverted pyramid of caregiving. The inverted pyramid implies a high dependency ratio on the current generation who, besides taking care of their own children, are also increasingly responsible for 2 set of elderly parents. While a large amount of global elderly care falls under the unpaid market sector- families caring for the elderly, there is a definitive need gap due to paucity of time and proximity needed to provide caregiving to either set of parents. Thus, there is a tremendous growth opportunity for a wide variety of elderly care services found across the globe such as assisted living, adult day care, long term care, nursing homes (often referred to as residential care), hospice care, and home care.

In 2018, the Global Elderly Care Service Market was dominated by Institutional care and is anticipated to generate a market size of US$ 1,197.5 billion by 2025, as per a UnivDatos Market Insights (UMI). Home-Based care is anticipated to be the fastest-growing service type during the forecast period. No wonder then, that the new age Eldercare start-ups like Homage, Evrcare, Caregiver Asia are some of the front runners in helping the elders live with dignity as they age.

  1. E-commerce for medical supplies both for consumers and healthcare operators

The global medical supplies industry consists of companies engaged in the manufacturing and distribution of products such as medical equipment, x-ray films, dental drills, forceps, surgical knives, gloves, bandages, dressings, syringes, stethoscopes, and other consumables. While a marketplace for medical supplies and medicines for patients and end consumers has existed for some time now, an online marketplace for institutional and hospital buyers and sellers is finally making waves. And it is easy to understand why, especially for the low involvement products and daily consumables. This also enables the local manufacturers to sell their products online effortlessly.

The global medical supplies market (offline and online) is over USD 100 billion and projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.3%, as per Energias Market Research report. While North America holds the largest share of the global medical supplies market, Asia-Pacific region is expected to witness fastest growth in the next 3 years. Taking the global medical supplies market online is definitely going to add substantial growth to the already growing sector.

  1. Health Tourism

Picture this: you just came back from an action-packed family travel and you went so overboard in following your packed itinerary that your holiday has left you with a tired body dying to take its next holiday just to relax. Enter Health Tourism which takes the ‘tired’ out of your travel and instead focuses on ‘enhancement’. Health has become a buzzword for selling everything from food products to insurance to luxury products and services. While the overall Travel sector has been growing at 3.9%^2 year on year, Wellness Tourism is valued at USD 639bn^3 growing at 7.5% year or year and the trend is only expected to improve. What’s more, on an average, the wellness tourist spends about 53% more than an average international tourist. Agreed, leisure and experiential travel are the dominant segments in travel industry today. But there is a definite need to address the growing and attractive wellness tourism market. Let’s see who emerges winner in catering to this early trend.

^2Source: World Travel and Tourism Council, 2018 ; ^3Source : Global Wellness Institute report

  1. Preventive Care

In the course of my career, I have worked on several brands that started out as niche problem solvers and then attempted to make a shift to prevention to expand their market with more regular use. It was a tough task since prevention of any disease or condition has always eluded the masses. But the times are changing and how. From anti-ageing creams to fitness tracking devices, we are at the cusp of a definitive consumer shift towards prevention or even enhancement of one’s current state of health and well-being. This has led to a steady rise in early detection and screening technologies that dominate the preventive healthcare technologies and services market. In addition, we are also seeing action in several related sub sectors such as health insurance plans that aim at early detection, wearables to track fitness, apps to monitor diet and improve compliance for rehabilitative and curative therapies.

As per Healthcare Technologies & Services Market Report, the global preventive healthcare technologies and services market size was valued at USD 139.1 billion in 2015 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 12.0% over the forecast period.

[About the author]
SHWETA SHRIVASTAVA

Shweta Shrivastava is a senior Marketing and Strategy leader turned start-up mentor. Having served as Marketing Head across large multinational companies, Shweta is currently an Investor & advisor to health and consumer tech start-ups in the Asian markets. Passionate about the intersection of healthcare and technology in democratising healthcare, Shweta features her blogs at StartWright Insights page. To get more updates on upcoming trends in healthtech and consumer tech, please follow her on linkedin