Global forces: What can health systems learn from each other?
02 October 2018
Facing similar forces of change, health systems in different parts of the globe can still learn from each other. Demographic and societal shifts such as urbanisation and ageing populations are intensifying resource pressures. The world population is expected to increase by one billion people by the year 2025; almost one-third will be age 65 or older. Therefore, healthcare organisations should solve today’s pressing problems with a mindset of the future rather than relying on past assumptions.
A new PwC Health Research Institute report highlights the eight issues that will have the most impact on the industry across the globe and how different countries are approaching them:
- Working smarter with artificial intelligence
New technologies are being used to automate business decision support applications, streamline regulatory functions and increase efficiency in reporting and medical product development. One of the most promising new technologies is AI. It is estimated that by 2021, healthcare organisations could realise 15 to 20 percent gains in productivity through the use of AI technologies.
- Mapping a clear direction for virtual health
Consumers are increasingly managing their own health and are often counting on the burgeoning virtual health system to help them. An abundance of resources and health products, such as mobile devices and health-related apps, exist, but consumers struggle to make choices without clear guidance from providers and health systems. The result is a lot of missed opportunities to embed virtual health into the traditional health system’s care pathways.
- Using technology to create virtual capacity and lower costs
The promise of technology is to increase value for consumers and alleviate resource constraints on healthcare entities by creating virtual capacity. Virtual capacity is created by supplementing the labour force and shifting care away from traditional, more costly settings such as hospitals and emergency rooms to clinics and homes, and investing in technologies that reduce costs. Across the globe, countries are increasingly using these new tools.
- Providing value beyond the medical device
Medical device companies are moving beyond delivering just the device: They are offering services to hospitals, patients, clinicians and more in response to a changing industry that responds to consumer needs and desires. Medical device and technology executives have emphasised the importance of incorporating the consumer perspective into product design, including making medical technology and devices easier to operate.
- Putting patient experience first
Globally, consumerism in healthcare is growing at different paces and for different reasons. In some countries, the drivers are increased cost-sharing and the desire for a better overall experience. In others, the demand for greater access to care and better outcomes is fuelling the trend. Governments are finding that the demand for convenient, cost-effective care is outstripping their ability to fund expanded health services to meet growing consumer demands.
- Transforming the next generation of clinical trials
To recruit and retain clinical trial participants, companies are adopting digital tools and patient-centric approaches. Patients consider the potential risks and benefits, the study’s purpose and the research centre’s location to be the most important factors influencing their decision to participate. Mobile apps and telemedicine are letting patients participate in clinical trials outside of traditional trial sites, making trials more convenient and accessible.
- Securing the internet of things and cybersecurity
Internet-connected medical devices and health system networks and systems are increasingly at-risk for cyberattacks and in some cases, ransomware and malware, such as the WannaCry malware attack in 2017 that affected 300,000 computers in 150 countries.
- Looking beyond the hospital to the social determinants of health
Chronic diseases are costly, to both health systems and individuals, whose quality of life suffers. Wellness and disease prevention are becoming a growing focus as regulators, payers and providers seek to empower communities and people to take charge of their well-being. Consumers are similarly motivated; spending on wellness is forecast to grow by 20 percent from 2016 to 2020.
How is the UK responding to these challenges?
The report highlights a number of approaches from the UK that other countries could learn from. For example how the NHS is shifting from care models that focus on institutions to a patient-centred care approach, digital transformation initiatives, developing lower-cost drugs, protecting patient data and developing health management apps.
The key thing when considering these global forces for change is that healthcare doesn’t stand still, because neither do patients. Their expectations change. They’re constantly raising the bar. Their sense of what better health and care is like today will change tomorrow. On 18 October we will release our next UK Patients’ Voice with polling puts the patient at the centre by finding out what they care about and why. To learn about the findings, make sure you subscribe to our blog.
You can explore the Global top health industry issues: Defining the healthcare of the future research here.