This is a time of competing, converging influences on the health sector: Consumers are demonstrating a lack of trust in traditional health systems; they are increasingly willing to entrust their health services to non-health sectors; and ubiquitous technology is giving them the tools to do so.
We are in an era of consumer distrust, and this is clearly evident in the healthcare industry. Patients are becoming more demanding of information, alternatives and improved outcomes. Armed with more knowledge, their scrutiny of each viable care option increases.
Healthcare, like other industries, is also affected by global shifts in economic power and the transition of business activity from Western nations to emerging markets. Consumers are able to take control of their own healthcare through local or international innovations. These developments are creating new health economies out of growing global competition.
The pressure is thus on governments to reduce costs right at a time when the consumer is most demanding. Their challenge is to maintain quality and increase access to care with fewer resources to draw from. Simultaneously, as new players come on the scene, traditional players, including governments, will have to decide with whom to compete and with whom to partner.
As new industries provide health services to meet the demands of consumers traditional players will have to decide with whom to compete and with whom to partner.
New entrants have several advantages within the healthcare space: global reach, customer insights, commitment to transparency and trusted brands. They regard their unique perspective as an asset to capture and dominate the fragmented sector. Technology and the rise of mobile health (mHealth) have blurred the borders for healthcare products and services. Emerging markets are challenging conventional thinking—adopting principles from other industries to develop creative solutions that improve performance and reduce costs. They have an advantage over developed countries because they are unencumbered by legacy infrastructure and are more willing to adopt new innovation.
Meanwhile, more competition allows discerning consumers to focus on and demand results. Governments have been forced to expand healthcare choices through unconventional partnerships that provide the accessible, high-quality health services people demand. Today’s patient expects better outcomes, and governments are starting to institute payment models based on those expectations. The private sector has the resources to provide service at high satisfaction rates with tools that governments need to turn the tide of mistrust. New markets are being created, but regulations have been slow to keep up.
With all these new players in healthcare, oversight will be key. Individuals, now more than ever, will need governments to create and enforce a regulatory environment for partnerships that simultaneously fosters innovation while protecting the patient. The result will be a health system that delivers value for the patient, governments and businesses.
Global Health Industries, Industry Executive, PwC United States
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