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Healthcare boundaries 'being erased,' says PwC

Reports claims technology is eradicating person-to-person interaction

edit-pwc_ad_700The 'virtualisation' of healthcare is creating a new breed of company - often from emerging economies - that is turning the sector on its head, says a new report.

New mobile, digital and wireless technologies have created a new kind of consumer that no longer relies on the person-to-person interaction that has traditionally been the nexus of healthcare, and erasing healthcare boundaries as they "enable care anywhere," according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Stepping up to meet those needs are a number of new entrants who are "pioneering pathways into virtual healthcare, more affordable and convenient care options, wellness and fitness, and more," it says.

The $9.59tn global healthcare market is receptive to innovations, according to the authors of the report, who note "consumers want a healthcare experience that mirrors the convenience and transparency of banking, retail & other services."

The report also points to a 'democratisation of healthcare' which means for example that "a pregnant woman in India can receive pertinent health messages on her mobile device that offer instructions for prenatal care and alerts on what symptoms might require attention."

In emerging markets surveyed by PwC - namely Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Turkey - more than half (54%) of respondents expect that mobile health applications and services will improve the quality of healthcare they receive in the next three years.

Developed economies are also open to change, with 52% of Canadians saying mobile health technologies will improve access to care and 43% of Germans indicating they would accept healthcare from non-traditional providers. 

The new entrants include some well-known groups that have traditionally operated outside healthcare - such as Coca-Cola bottling company FEMSA that is making waves running retail pharmacies in Mexico or Sir Richard Branson's Virgin which has pushed into health and social care services in the UK - as well as healthcare specialists who are pushing into new categories.

Much of the new activity is coming from emerging economies, however, where urgent healthcare needs and a less regulated environment makes it easier for new, disruptive technologies to claim a foothold.

"New entrants are disrupting the healthcare industry globally and are helping to spur the rise of a new kind of healthcare consumer," notes Vaughn Kauffman, who led the project at PwC and believes rising healthcare costs and limited access to care is driving the change.

"We're seeing new entrants in health crossing national borders and forging symbiotic partnerships with traditional players, overturning old paradigms as they introduce greater choice and innovative health solutions."

Article by
Phil Taylor

5th March 2015

From: Research, Sales

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