Curzon Consulting Healthcare lead, Chetan Trivedi, argues that a perfect storm is approaching in Healthcare, and it’s been brewing for a while…
On one hand, we are seeing an ageing population, with growing multiple comorbidities, requiring more complex care. On the other hand, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in 2017, global debt had reached an all-time high of $184 trillion in nominal terms, the equivalent of 225 percent of GDP.
In order to “move the needle”, Healthcare systems need to radically move away from “tinkering round the edges”, and instead, focus on delivering transformative change (focusing on prevention, implementing new care delivery models enabled by technology, better triaging and stratifying patients to determine best intervention point (hospital, community, home, etc.), leveraging appropriate skills set to treat patient (physician versus pharmacists versus nurse, etc.).
Some of the choices may not be popular, but if left unchecked, on the current trajectory, we will leave the future generation with a formidable challenge.
So, what are the 10 factors generating the perfect storm in healthcare?
1. Economic headwinds
Unprecedented level of total global debt-to-GDP (225%)* during peace time. Simply printing more money, creating more debt or throwing more funds at an outdated healthcare system is not going to help. Health systems need to improve quality and reduce cost-per-capita quickly. Focus on evidence-based disease prevention is key.
*Global debt has reached an all-time high of $184 trillion in nominal terms, the equivalent of 225 percent of GDP in 2017. On average, the world’s debt now exceeds $86,000 in per capita terms, which is more than 2½ times the average income per-capita. International Monetary Fund, 2019
2. Demographic time-bomb
An aging population with multiple comorbidities is requiring more complex care, so healthcare patients need to be better triaged and stratified to determine the best intervention point (hospital, community, home, etc.). The global population aged >60 years numbered 962 million in 2017, more than twice as large as it was in 1980. This figure is expected to double by 2050.**
We are seeing an increased prevalence of long-term chronic conditions such as hypertension and Type 2 diabetes. These are likely to add pressure on primary and secondary care organisations. Healthcare systems need to radically re-think “healthcare” with a greater focus on prevention and alternative care models such as community, home; GP vs. Pharmacist vs. Nurse.
4. Capacity constraints
The overcrowding of hospitals and emergency departments by patients who can been seen outside of the acute setting are causing delays for patients with higher levels of acuity to be seen earlier. Healthcare patients need to be better educated, triaged and stratified to determine the best intervention point (hospital, community, home, etc.).
5. Regulatory changes
Regulators are increasingly playing catch up with a fast paced, rapidly evolving healthcare sector, particularly with respect to innovation and technology. Commissioners are also pushing for greater cost transparency across the entire healthcare sector (i.e. hospital and drug pricing in the US, diagnostic and drug pricing in India, etc.)
6. Technology disruption
Rapid advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Genomics, Telehealth, Remote Monitoring technologies and customised medicines are allowing clinicians to deliver precision healthcare, whilst improving patient experience and lowering cost. Innovation promises to deliver speed, quality and productivity at scale and lower cost.
7. Patient expectations
Consumer expectations are rapidly rising. Younger patients are increasingly seeking to access care on their terms. The Patient-Doctor relationship is being transformed (“The Patient Will See You Now”***). Older patients are expecting far greater quality of life until much later in life, placing a major strain on healthcare systems such as orthopaedics and physiotherapy.
***The Patient Will See You Now, authored by American cardiologist, geneticist, and digital medicine researcher, Eric Topol
8. Healthcare model transformation
There is increasing pressure to develop high quality, less-expensive alternatives to traditional hospital care models. Increasing focus on delivering care in the community and patient’s home. Move towards Integrated Care, Value Based Outcome, etc. models to drive convenience, improved quality and aligned incentives (payers vs. provider).
9. Challenging treatment protocols
Pressure from patients and clinicians to challenge existing disease treatment protocols. For example, healthcare patients with long term chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes experimenting with low-carb diets to stop and reverse disease. Focus on prevention through life style changes.
10. Healthcare data explosion
An exponential increase in electronic data is being generated across the Healthcare continuum. AI and connected medical devices will take data generation and storage requirements to a scale not seen before. Securing all this data (on potentially a Blockchain) will be a leading priority for all stakeholders across healthcare.
For over 15 years I have supported Healthcare payers, providers and medical devices companies on strategy, operational improvement and digital transformation engagements across the UK, wider Europe, Middle East, US, India and Canada.
I am deeply passionate about improving health outcomes, safety and quality of life for patients.