The New Health Economy
We are on the verge of a paradigm shift to a new health economy, which focuses on a holistic approach and the prevention of diseases, taking into account how these are managed. The pace of change to a new healthcare economy will be commonplace in the technology industry. This shift will be possible because the convergence of technologies will radically change the demand for medical care. Decreasing costs in the genetics field, better diagnoses, smartphones with built-in sensors to control health information and digital medicine have been creating unique business and management opportunities.
In the new health economy, patients are seen as customers and they have the freedom to decide how to spend their own money. These customers will choose suppliers who help them keep a continuous feeling of well-being and confidence. The advent of Dr. Google and the increased availability of health information will change the role of doctors. They will become patients' advisors, guiding them through the health system and helping them find the best sources of information.
The new health economy will focus on innovation, which will be measured in terms of results for patients and affordable prices. As a result, there will be increased customer satisfaction. This new booming health economy offers innovation opportunities that will result in better, faster, and cheaper services, which will also be more integrated and widespread.
Where are the best innovation opportunities in this new health economy?
The Customer is King: With fierce competition and more demanding customers, successful companies will be those perceived to be delivering consistent value and contributing to patients' well-being. Customers are willing to spend more investing in tools and technologies that help them live better. Innovation strategies will be aimed at transforming the difficult moment of the diagnosis of a disease into a more pleasant experience. They will benefit healthcare providers, as patients will have more information. This will generate customer loyalty across all socioeconomic levels.
Information is Power: Patients in this new health economy will have huge amounts of personalized data, which can be quickly accessed and delivered to health care teams in order to anticipate problems. Patients will be more knowledgeable than ever before and will develop healthcare action plans with their doctors. Using patients' data, companies could even help doctors make better informed decisions, which in turn could bring financial benefits. Finally, I believe we will have an efficient prediction model.
Outpatient Clinic vs Hospitalization: We are facing a shift in healthcare services, as hospitalization is being replaced by outpatient treatment. There will be increased investments in these services and patients will be able to stay in their own neighborhoods. The new caregivers will make up for any shortage of doctors. Research has shown that the cost of treating oncological patients, for example, can be reduced by half if they are treated at home.
Mobile Health Is the Future: The wireless and wearable technology industries are growing, thanks partly to the many new companies that are breaking health paradigms and empowering patients to better manage their own health care. In 2015, the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) will evaluate a record number of health apps, as companies start to cope with the demand for increasingly sophisticated health products. These apps aim to reduce the geographical barrier, increase patients' access to information, and offer remote monitoring of chronic diseases. This will lead to the creation of a new business model. In the USA, 68% of doctors are willing to prescribe medication through a mobile app and 42% would use the results of home monitoring, performed by the patient, to prescribe medicine.
Eliminating waste and resistance to change: Companies in the new health economy will start re-engineering processes in our health system, focusing on efficiency, value, and openness to new models and processes. The companies that will come out on top are those that leverage technology to their suppliers, healthcare plans, medical service providers, laboratories, and clinics. This will greatly reduce their administrative costs, will ensure transparency and quality, and will help them better understand their customers' preferences. This will allow them to target their actions accordingly.
The Aging of the Population: Healthcare models associated with an aging population are changing. The advancement of health knowledge and technology have enabled the population to age with a better quality of life. New companies emerge with focused solutions that help the elderly manage their own health care. Strategies include fall prevention, remote monitoring, medicine management and social elements that improve patients' general well-being.
A new model befitting our health system will create unique and dynamic opportunities for current members of the Health Market. The companies that are able to reinvent the rendering of services, improve quality, all while increasing access and decreasing costs, will benefit. The transition to new models of providing healthcare services will be challenging and will require a complete shift in the business and process approach, bringing with it the inherent risk of new models. If everybody is committed to overcoming the initial barriers, we will all reap the rewards of success.