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Health Care Industries and the Future

By June 27, 2011Commentary

PriceWaterhouseCoopers issued a report giving its vision of the opportunity for companies participating in the United States’ health industry.  The basic thesis of the report is that as health care continues to become a larger part of the US economy, more and more companies will want to get a piece of the action, including many new to the industry.  The report says 76% of the Fortune 50 companies have a health business, but almost two thirds of those are entering the market in a non-traditional manner.  According to the survey which was part of the report, 18% of adults work or have worked in health care and another 13% would like to.  As might be expected, PWC expects the younger generation to drive some new markets, such as mobile apps and video games, and that consumers overall would be willing to spend over $13 billion a year of their own money on health services, including those mobile apps, games and resources that rate providers.   (PWC Report)

PWC identified four types of new opportunities:  fixers who work on improving processes that are dysfunctional in traditional health care companies; implementers who take advantage of government programs and regulations to help the industry comply and meet governmental policy goals; retailers who work with business models that address high volume, low margin markets; and connectors who help link information and communication across the system and provide analytics for the resulting data.  In fact, many of the new opportunities discussed in the report relate to the creation, collection and use of data, as many survey respondents said issues with data were the major problem facing the system.

Another major theme of the report was the willingness of consumers to purchase services and goods outside of traditional channels, reflected in use of online consultations and retail clinics.  While the report has high hopes for direct-to-consumer businesses, it identifies several challenges, including price, consumer education, improving access and guarding privacy.  The report is a little scattered and its not clear what the real opportunity is, but it is undoubtedly true that health care will continue to be an attractive growth segment for many companies as it devours more of GDP and consumers’ incomes.

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