Accelerating the health economy of tomorrow

Transforming health systems and embracing innovation amid a pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, its extensive impact on healthcare is altering the very nature of health systems worldwide. What’s changing? Existing trends, which formerly grew incrementally—such as telemedicine and data-driven models—have accelerated substantially, resulting in a sooner-than-expected arrival of tomorrow’s healthcare ecosystem.

COVID-19 is rewriting the rules so quickly that in order for health organisations to thrive in this interconnected network—what we call the New Health Economy—each must adapt and develop a new strategic identity for the future. The task to repair, rethink and reconfigure models will help players emerge stronger from crisis—and deliver healthcare, reinvented.

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Accelerating the health economy of tomorrow

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the New Health Economy and transformations across the health system.

The pandemic is accelerating the New Health Economy

The elements of the NHE have been building toward a more interconnected health ecosystem. But the pandemic has increased the speed of the transformation.

Figure 1

Source: PwC Health Research Institute analysis of COVID-19 accelerators of the New Health Economy ecosystem, which was first published in Surviving seismic change: Winning a piece of the $5 trillion US health ecosystem, PwC’s Health Research Institute, Sept. 2016

The COVID-19 pandemic will likely accelerate…

A host of health services previously conducted in person have shifted into digital spaces. Technologies such as video healthcare visits, at-home diagnostics and wearable monitors will continue to expand; R&D and clinical trials are already going virtual; and various members of the workforce remain remote. Such virtualisation will move patients from irregular healthcare interactions to a continuous model of care.

Tomorrow’s healthcare will be driven by analytics. By utilising real-time data collection, scenario planning and AI techniques, healthcare organisations—in some cases helped by tech companies—will be empowered to more effectively match resources with needs, to provide continuous and customised patient care between visits, and to break down communication barriers between information systems.

The healthcare supply chain—the global movement of drugs, medical supplies, technology and innovation—is expected to become more agile and resilient to future crises. 'Glocalisation'—developing a network of multiple nodes, some close to home, for production and supplies—will increase, as inventory transparency and continuous manufacturing become the norm.

It’s widely accepted that socioeconomic, environmental and behavioural factors that lie outside the realm of traditional healthcare strongly affect a person’s health. The pandemic and the resulting economic downturn have worsened the most common social determinants of health, and healthcare organisations of tomorrow will partner with trusted community groups, charities, businesses and governments to address social factors and prioritise mental health and wellness services.

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