Amidst a global pandemic and surge in healthcare demand, inflation is inevitable. But with recent rapid advancements in technology and Covid-induced digitisation, HealthTech is the solution to our global healthcare crisis.
The healthcare industry already suffers from high inflation rates, and combined with the ongoing pandemic, global health care budgets increased by 6.8% in 2020, along with a global inflation rate of 2.4%, according to insurance brokerage and advisory company Willis Towers Watson. Digitisation and HealthTech will be the solution for cutting costs and managing the seemingly inevitable inflation of healthcare.
For example in 2019 – 2020 in Hong Kong, total health expenditure amounted to HK$189,624 million, with annual per capita spending at HK$25,258. According to the Hong Kong government’s Food and Health Bureau, “from 1989/90 to 2019/20, total health expenditure rose at an average annual rate of 5.6% in real terms, faster than the corresponding increase of 3.4% in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the same period. As a result, total health expenditure as a percentage of GDP went up from 3.6% in 1989/90 to 6.8% in 2019/20.” For 2020 – 2021, healthcare spending is expected to rise by 18%.
The World Nano Foundation (WNF), a nonprofit organisation which supports commercialising nanoscale technology, including nanomedicine, commented on the global healthcare crisis: “Current operation of global healthcare is simply not sustainable,” said WNF Co-founder Paul Sheedy. “Our centralised model uses hospitals to treat almost every ailment or condition, but patients should only come to hospital when they cannot be treated and monitored at home. This is what has fuelled this above-inflation high-cost system and incidentally, also exacerbated the COVID-19 infection rate. And developing countries are trying to copy these costly and inefficient systems too, leading to poorer quality of care and disease infection risk.”
Paul continued that healthcare needs to shift to a more sustainable, decentralised platform, through the use of digitisation and HealthTech: “Last year’s pandemic showed that we already had the technology to diagnose and treat patients at home through telemedicine, while cost-effective remote health monitoring devices for multiple diseases and health issues are also arriving and improving constantly. Meanwhile, other technology and treatments are also being developed to enable hospitals and health centres to treat patients more quickly and effectively, and avoid being overloaded.”
This is a global crisis, and in order to achieve healthcare solutions faster and more efficiently, leading technology innovators need to collaborate. One upside of the Covid-19 pandemic is that we achieved global rapid HealthTech advances, from the development and approval of mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, to the commodification of telehealth.