Healthcare and pharmaceutical trends 2019

Optimism wanes worldwide, part of PwC’s 22nd CEO Survey trends series

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2019 is a year of transition, with growing economic uncertainty percolating, data science and artificial intelligence (AI) primed for breakouts, and rising costs and resource constraints impacting decision-making on all levels. How can healthcare and pharmaceutical CEOs shore up and improve existing capabilities and revenue streams and move gingerly into new markets and digital solutions?

Key insights

Growth confidence shrinks

Industry CEOs anticipate an economic rough patch ahead, with only 38% of healthcare and 41% of pharma CEOs expressing optimism about global growth in 2019, down from 67% and 51% in 2018. Similarly, CEO confidence in future organisational growth has dampened over the past year. CEOs cited policy uncertainty and overregulation as the primary threats to growth. Other concerns include international trade tensions and uncertainty accompanying the nationalist political sentiments currently sweeping the globe.  

Hiring is down, up-skilling is up

Facing economic uncertainty, industry CEOs will take a cautious approach to hiring. Only 54% expect to increase the headcounts in their organizations in 2019 down from 71% in 2018. A deficit in supply of skilled workers was a top concern of CEOs. To close the skills gap, nearly half of CEOs advocate primarily for retraining or up-skilling their existing workforce to gain essential skills, while another quarter believe in the merits of establishing strong talent pipelines directly from educational institutions.

Mountains of data, molehills of intelligence

Despite the vast stores of raw data available, precious little gets translated into actionable intelligence that CEOs can use. This information gap was pronounced in the latest survey: 93% of industry CEOs place a high value on data about brand and reputation, yet only 28% are furnished with adequate data. Similarly, 93% place a premium on customer preference data, but only 17% are satisfied with their data. CEOs cited a number of factors, including data siloing, subpar analytical talent and lack of information sharing within their organisations.

Going slow on AI

PwC estimates AI will contribute US$15.7tn in global GDP gains by 2030. 78% of healthcare and pharma CEOs are enticed by AI’s potential to transform the way they do business. Yet a mere 2% have implemented AI initiatives on a wide scale, and a third have no AI plans currently. Trust is a major impediment. AI shows dazzling potential in areas such as diagnosing illness and developing treatment plans. But the ability to quantify and explain AI’s value to society will drive the rate of adoption in the industry, according to 82% of CEOs.

What keeps CEOs awake at night

Rising costs and their ensuing pressures on governments, private sector payers and consumers is the top concern of 93% of healthcare and 81% of pharma CEOs. At the same time, 86% of healthcare and 82% of pharma CEOs are doing more with fewer resources, including a projected shortage of 12.9 million healthcare professionals by 2025. Still another pressing concern is addressing social determinants of health, such as housing, nutrition, education, as well as a global trend of increasing wealth disparity, according to 68% of healthcare and 49% of pharma CEOs. Increasingly, preventive behaviors are seen as the grail of healthcare.

Contact us

Kelly Barnes

Global and US Health Industries Leader, PwC United States

Tel: +1 (214) 754 5172

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