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Changing demographics demand healthcare reforms

An ageing population and growing middle class are shifting healthcare needs and responses.

Demographic shifts and societal changes are intensifying pressures on health systems and demanding new directions in the delivery of healthcare. We are getting older. Ageing populations in both emerging and developed nations are driving up the demand for healthcare.

According to the United Nations, the world’s population is expected to increase by one billion people by 2025. Of that billion, 300 million will be people aged 65 or older, as life expectancy around the globe continues to rise. Additional healthcare resources and service innovation is needed globally to deliver the long-term care and chronic disease management services required by a rapidly increasing senior population.

At the same time, developing countries are experiencing significant growth in their middle class. The Brookings Institute estimates 65% of the global population will be middle class by 2030. Accelerated urbanisation and access to middle-class comforts are promoting sedentary lifestyle changes that will inevitably lead to greater incidence of obesity, diabetes and other costly health conditions.

These demographic changes will not be evenly distributed across the globe, however. Growth, for example, will be more concentrated in some parts of the world. Africa’s population is anticipated to double by 2050, while Europe’s population is shrinking.

Collaborations between the public sector, private sector and new entrants offer needed innovation and access to new markets.

Impact on Healthcare

Driven in part by demographic changes, a new paradigm of public and private sector collaboration is developing to transform healthcare financing and delivery. Partnerships with new market participants from industries such as retail, telecommunications, technology, wellness and fitness are expanding and reshaping the health system. What is the payoff for collaborators? These partnerships open the door to a multi-trillion dollar global market for these new commercial entrants, while governments gain access to the innovation and efficiency of new technologies they would not otherwise be able to afford. The shared benefits are long-term cost savings with better outcomes for the patients at a time when changing demographics are depleting health resources.

A rising middle class will fuel increasing demand for more health options. Looking forward, more effective partnerships are needed between the public and private sectors to meet these expectations. Collaborations that in the past may have seemed unlikely will become commonplace. Changing technology and consumer needs will inspire partnership innovations that cut through conventional thinking.

As the population grows, technological innovations in mobile health (mHealth) will advance cost-effective health solutions. Technology and analytics are ushering in new ways of promoting wellness, preventing disease and providing patient-centric care. These advances are exciting tools for providers, private payers and governments alike, as they bring greater precision to predicting patient behaviour and detecting and diagnosing diseases.

Different parts of the world will be impacted differently by these demographic shifts. Successful and sustainable change across the globe will require flexible and adaptive models to fit the new health economies.

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