What Does The Future Health Index 2021 Tell Developers and IT Businesses?

Sergey Avdeychik

Sergey Avdeychik

Director of Healthcare Technologies at Andersen

Healthcare
Sep 16, 2021
10 minutes to read
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  1. The Future Health Index 2021: keynotes
  2. The TeleMedicine market
  3. Investments in AI
  4. Difficulties in technology introduction
  5. Reorientation of healthcare systems
  6. Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has become a significant source of stress for healthcare systems around the world. The workload on medical staff has increased, leading to their burnout. The structure of hospitals and the first-aid treatment priorities have changed. For patients, self-isolation measures have been associated with stress. These constraints have stimulated healthcare companies to seek solutions that will make patient care flexible and adaptable. The Future Health Index 2021 has been conducted at the commission of Philips for six straight years. In this article, we will talk about software technology trends in healthcare over the next three years and what global business leaders think about the future of medicine.

The Future Health Index 2021: keynotes

The current index reflects the results of a survey of leading healthcare players from 14 developed countries in five continents and combines qualitative and quantitative approaches in preparing the results.

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The survey was conducted from December 2020 to March 2021. It reflects healthcare insiders’ attempt to look beyond the horizon of the post-covid world, indicating the leading trends for the next three years.

To begin with, attention is drawn to the very title of the current index - “A resilient future.” The maximum emphasis is placed on this factor in the vision of challenges and prospects for the near future.

The pandemic situation has revealed a number of problems in the development of national healthcare systems and sharply raised the question of achieving a state of readiness to prevent emerging challenges as effectively as possible, instead of responding to them post factum. The red flag is the figures of losses incurred by hospitals and the US healthcare system in the first half of 2020 alone - more than $200 million as a price to pay for the lack of "resilience." However, at the moment, about 86% of those surveyed believe that national healthcare systems and hospitals are resilient enough to withstand the current crisis and are ready for possible future shocks.

One of the main trends in the development of the healthcare system is its further digitalization. This aligns with the estimates of the PwC experts:

“The next decade is moving towards medical solutions – using AI, robotics, and virtual and augmented reality – to deliver intelligent solutions for both evidence- and outcome-based health and focusing on collaborative, preventative care.”

At the current stage, among the digitalization trend leaders are such areas as TeleMedicine, virtual assistance, and the development of AI in healthcare. While about 69% of industry leaders are concerned about overcoming the consequences of the current crisis and are less ready to think about the future, 42% of them are moving towards the introduction of new technologies in the field of remote and virtual assistance. This paves the way for healthcare software development companies and companies producing related devices.

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The TeleMedicine market

Although remaining stable in recent years and showing a significant increase in investments and inventions, the trend of TeleMedicine development already has an obvious downward trend and a minimum reserve of valid growth. The volume of investments in this sphere is predicted to decrease within three years by 24% in comparison with the indicators of 2020 and may amount to 40%. The healthcare systems of the USA, Saudi Arabia, and the Netherlands will be the leaders in implementation (over 80%).

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To explain this phenomenon, we can name several reasons. On the one hand, the efforts undertaken to deploy a global virtual aid system have already borne fruit and require much fewer resources for their maintenance and development than before. Additional investment in the industry could propel more advanced TeleMedicine application developments, but the market is close to saturation and is unlikely to offer significant profits to companies specializing in this area. Here, points of growth will most likely be devices for remote patient monitoring and ambient assisted living for elderly patients or people with disabilities.

On the other hand, the uncertain situation in the insurance reimbursement market remains an important factor suppressing the growth of investments in TeleMedicine. Most leaders of the healthcare system assess it extremely cautiously and consider it a temporary measure that can be canceled at the end of the coronavirus crisis (about 24% of respondents directly refer to this).

Investments in AI

Most of the leaders surveyed consider the use of healthcare software solutions based on AI/ML as a predictably important trend. Such technologies make it possible to:

  • better plan and predict events,
  • optimize efficiency,
  • improve diagnostics and clinical decision-making mechanisms.

This aligns with the views of most business leaders in the US and other countries. Accordi