Renita Das is a partner and Senior Vice President of Transformational Health at Frost & Sullivan. This article was co-authored by Chandni Mathur, Senior Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
2020 was a different year than any other year in our history. It has affected the fabric of our society and our lives – but more importantly, it changed the healthcare industry forever.
The next 10 projections we made on global healthcare will define new ways to rethink business opportunities and growth in 2021, and help define the future direction of the industry.
1. By the end of 2021, about 4 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered globally.
Priority will be given to these target groups to immunize three groups: the healthcare workforce, which consists of service providers, administration and support workers in hospitals and social care; Adults over 65; And about 45% of adults have comorbidities.
More than 50% of the projected production capacity for candidate vaccines, which is in stage 3 and gets emergency approval, has been booked in advance by advanced economies, such as the United States, the European Union, Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom
Low- and middle-income developing countries rely primarily on COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the COVID-19 Access Tool Accelerator, which is co-spearheaded by the Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness Innovations, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization. These organizations aim to deliver two billion doses by the end of 2021 in a fair manner among all 172 participating countries, resulting in approximately 25% of the world’s population being vaccinated.
Pharmaceutical companies will collaborate widely on manufacturing, supply chain requirements, post-monitoring and storage studies. Enterprise digital vaccination management platforms will have to be built to inform the public, schedule vaccines, automate mobile facilities, monitor outcomes and manage the supply chain for COVID-19 vaccines.
2. More than one in three interactions with patients will become hypothetical globally – because the doctor will not be the automatic first point of contact.
The pandemic has boosted the power of digital platforms to communicate and guide healthcare. Throughout the crisis period, virtual visits, remote monitoring, and patient engagement tools have effectively reduced clinic foot traffic and virtually provided a large portion of office visits.
Approximately 35% of patient interactions will be digital in 2021, compared to 20% currently as delivery models change. Frost & Sullivan research indicates a growth of approximately 20-25% in patient engagement management solutions in 2021 alone. As patients used to digital healthcare, they now demand it from their providers.
Service providers will focus on building the most effective ‘digital front door’ strategies for staying relevant to your most connected audience. The patient engagement space will see mergers and acquisitions activity with those vendors who have more intuitive and interoperable user interfaces that remain robust.
3. Up to 75% of hospitals’ capital equipment budgets will be diverted to other immediate needs, with flexible pricing models becoming the norm.
Hospitals faced significant losses in 2020 due to COVID-19 since elective procedures were suspended and outpatient department visits decreased dramatically. In 2021, as an ongoing trend from 2020, we expect hospitals to devote significant chunks of capital budgets to digital transformation efforts – to virtual care, remote patient monitoring, analytics, and other health IT capabilities.
Hence, capital budgets already reduced due to lower revenues in 2020 will see a smaller share allocated to the purchase of capital equipment in 2021. In order to capture new business, OEMs will be seen in Med-tech introducing flexible pricing options and risk-sharing models. Since hospital financial managers are looking for a return on investment in two to three years, instead of five to seven years, awareness messages should be customized.
4. US hospital margins will improve from the second quarter through new revenue innovation and payment shifting.
In the United States, as federal aid dwindles, profit hospital margins are under severe pressure in 2020. Moreover, instability in patient volumes and cost management remain major challenges. Cost reduction will be a priority for hospitals in the United States and the world. They will seek long-term supplier agreements with fewer upfront investments. Nursing agreements will also see a change to avoid upfront costs and reduce overall costs.
Hospitals will negotiate diligently with Medicare and Medicare Service Centers and Medicare Advantage plans to be paid on a monthly basis to ensure there is a steady flow of revenue, and to move completely away from a fee-for-service agreement. Hospitals will also press hard to receive revenue from telehealth services.
5. The enterprise imaging IT space will generate up to $ 2 billion in investment toward imaging workflow efficiency, interoperability, and analytics.
Like hospitals, imaging centers have also suffered big losses in 2020. Budgets will focus on upgrades to imaging infrastructure, IT and telemetry to manage workflow improvements and reduce unnecessary checks.
Standardization of archiving of vendor-neutral IT infrastructure images, communication systems and archives is expected to improve the efficiency and quality of results without wasting resources. OEMs will be seen posting subscription-based models rather than pre-purchases.
6. Molecular screening platforms, multi-gene panel tests and NGS testing will re-imagine cancer treatment pathways for large populations – representing an estimated $ 1.7 billion opportunity by the end of 2021.
More than 1.2 million mutations in 350 genes in the human body that cause cancer make each cancer case unique. In addition to the benefit of less invasive tests, the simultaneous mapping of multiple biomarkers of genetic changes, rather than one biomarker at a time, is expected to increase access to the multiple gene panel and next-generation sequencing tests (comprehensive genotyping / testing).
By unlocking the potential of multi-gene panels and NGS testing, the in vitro diagnostics industry is accelerating efforts to transform cancer care by enabling accurate oncology at all stages of disease, regardless of the type of specimen.
As more guidance is published in the future and potential expansions in the labels are included, factual evidence and regulatory imperatives will drive the need to make the promise of accurate treatments to patients and speed up the approval of these tests.
The year 2020 has seen a shift towards mapping multiple biomarkers of genetic changes, thus reducing waiting times for treatment initiation and providing insight into potential resistance mechanisms. By 2021, we estimate that 5% of new cancer cases will adopt multi-gene panels and NGS treatment pathways for the most common types of cancer, such as lung, colorectal, and prostate cancer. As the market develops, early detection pathways for cancer will become prevalent, and CDx synergistic testing (concomitant diagnostics) will reinforce this new standard in cancer care.
7. The global telehealth market will reach nearly $ 50 billion in 2021, and will be integrated into virtual care.
The pandemic has been a massive shock to the healthcare industry and remote health services have emerged as a silver lining. The second quarter of 2020 saw an increase in virtual consultations via phone and video calls as closures continued in different parts of the world. Remote monitoring tools, mobile health apps and services took center stage.
Teladoc and Amwell in the US and AccuRx and KRY in certain parts of Europe saw impressive growth in traffic at the start of the pandemic. Telehealth has been the need of the hour – and with its benefits evident from its widespread reach, telehealth services are here to stay. Permanent payment relief will be critical to making telehealth a major delivery mechanism.
8. More than one in four interactions of an interventional medical device application support specialist will occur with remote hospital surgical teams.
Hybrid models of interaction (in person and remotely) will become more and more popular. Many hospitals are limiting the presence of hospital sales staff due to COVID-19, and the majority of doctors believe these restrictions will continue.
In 2020, more than 70% of application support professionals in the United States provided surgical support remotely – via phone or video calls. Companies like Avail Medsystems and ExplORer Surgical are already taking advantage of this opportunity with “procedural telemedicine” offerings to allow professionals to provide remote support to surgical teams in the operating room with annotations and image control in real time.
Medtech OEMs will benefit from agile business models. Sales costs will be significantly reduced as travel costs decrease. Best practices can be disseminated relatively more easily across the network using video training briefs to help improve patient outcomes and thus brand value.
9. Behavioral health will triple growth in the digital therapies market from 2021 to 2023.
The impact of COVID-19 will have a profound effect on the behavioral health of citizens around the world. Collective psychological pain, loss of dear family members, personal economic disasters, and pressure on social distancing have all increased the incidence of profound depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance abuse.
Responding to this trend will lead to further growth in the digital therapy market in developed regions. The need to manage behavioral health symptoms will triple the size of the digital therapies market by 2023, to reach $ 1.5 billion in the United States alone. Moreover, market participants in mental health and digital therapies will begin to merge in a new hybrid market. This development will also lead to the growth of virtual care.
10. Up to 50 new deals are expected to result in spending $ 2 billion on imaging solutions across enterprise-customer partnership models.
Reforms in national health policies and budgetary constraints will increase attractiveness and willingness to use operating business models. The rapid turnover of technology will entail allocating 20-30% of the imaging division’s budgets to the next generation of smart imaging equipment over a period of 8 to 15 years.
The pandemic has clearly accelerated the adoption of digital health and virtual care around the world, and it will show this within this decade. Healthcare providers will be seen embracing the technology like never before. Healthcare delivery is no longer limited to the walls of the four hospitals.
Virtual care will take immediate momentum and opportunity for growth with the help of wearable integration and acquisitions by telehealth leaders to deliver end-to-end platforms and solutions targeting care in the home as well as critical settings. Interoperability will be the bets of the table, as secure and efficient data exchanges are essential building blocks for the digital future of healthcare.
The ultimate goal is to get closer to the quadruple goal of healthcare … but digitally.