The trends in healthcare emerge in response to the changes – and challenges – in society and the environment.
The challenges may vary according to the characteristics of the local market, but we feel that there are some recognizable and pervasive influences that affect major parts of the market.
Demographic Changes and Their Impact
One of the main challenges is the ongoing shift in demographics. While we are already experiencing it, its impact will grow further. According to United Nations projections, 30% of the global population will be 65 years old or older by 2025 due to increased life expectancy, lifestyle and other factors. With a more mature population, healthcare is facing an increased demand to cater both to the health problems typical for the advanced age as well as the increased number of general health conditions, particularly long-term chronic diseases.
Moreover, the healthcare profession is facing a demographic shift itself – we can expect a further decrease in the number of active medical professionals, particularly in developed countries. Since this situation is compensated for by employing professionals from emerging countries, those countries are affected by this trend as well. According to these predictions, the pressure on healthcare will increase.
Active Patient: Empowered Consumer of Healthcare Services
We are experiencing the shift of ownership from medical institutions towards the patient/consumer. With the use of mobile devices as the central point for organizing daily activities, people are getting used to having constant access to many parts of their life whenever and wherever they are. They want to be informed and to take part in decisions regarding their health, their medical data and the procedures, and they require greater transparency and effectiveness, taking on a central role in healthcare.
To achieve that, the fragmentation within healthcare is expected to be diminished primarily in terms of improved processes and changed business models as well as in terms of integrated technology solutions. Patients may become increasingly more comfortable with receiving various health services in their own environment instead of in medical institutions. The services provided in the patient’s environment also partially address the demographic issues mentioned already. It is expected that technologies that are not yet widely used in healthcare will be used. Internet of Things, for example, may have much to offer to healthcare. As sensitive personal data is being handled in these environments, the major focus should be put on that area.
Finding good answers to these challenges is an opportunity to deliver good and useful solutions to the market. Apart from having a good idea, implementing the appropriate solution and to achieve a reasonable time-to-market is a clear challenge in a highly regulated environment.