According to studies by PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI), the dawn of a new health economy is upon us. As consumers take charge of their own health, outdated care-delivery models are being reinvented and replaced by new technologies and innovations. In what has been dubbed “the new health economy,” other sectors—such as telecommunications and retail—play a key role in the delivery of health-care and market-price values.
Providing expert research and analysis on trends affecting health-related industries, HRI’s findings point to a powerful global reality in which a new ecosystem serves the consumer. With the aim of pleasing the customer, new technologies are revolutionizing the $2.8 trillion health-care sector, turning the traditional industry into an open market. The new entrants into the field, also known as “market disruptors,” have largely come about in response to complex regulatory and reimbursement systems that confuse and frustrate patients.
A PwC Health Research Institute survey of one thousand adults found that over half would opt for nontraditional medical service options where they could pay online, use online consultation to inquire about medical symptoms (i.e., a skin rash), and even purchase at-home medical kits (i.e., to treat strep throat).
With patients willing to abandon traditional-care models, companies from outside the health-care sector are stepping up to the plate to fill the gap by providing alternative health-care delivery options that include home-based dialysis and chemotherapy treatments, electrocardiograms, digitally monitored pacemakers, and other treatments. Moreover, start-ups and companies from other industries are now providing retail clinics where consumers can receive treatment at a fraction of the price. Most famously, Wal-Mart shoppers pay $40 for visiting its clinics while some smartphone companies allow customers to pay medical bills (and even emergency room visits) by swiping their phones.
In the new health ecosystem, billions of dollars in revenue are being taken away from traditional health-care service providers and falling into the hands of eager “new entrants,” who are happy to capitalize on consumers’ search for competitively priced health solutions. According to HRI, these new lucrative health and wellness businesses are racking up over $46 billion in diagnostic and treatment services.