Written by Alex Mifsud, Co-founder and CEO at Weavr.io
No other sector has been affected by the changes of the pandemic like the healthcare sector. While the pressure of the pandemic has forced us to change the way healthcare uses digital, there has been a huge growth in the public wanting to take better care of themselves and they are happy to do this from the comfort of their home.
With many practices now offering virtual consultations and e-pharmacies, along with access to other care provisions, great digital experiences should be available everywhere, including healthcare.
There Are Opportunities Everywhere
The healthcare sector has been heavily disrupted by Telemedicine, operations software, and insurtechs. As a result, since 2016, the value of Europe-based healthtech has increased from $8bn to $41bn. There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has only accelerated this growth. But considering the advantages of new tech, from improved outcomes to cost-efficiency – the sector isn’t going to shift back again once COVID is in the rear view mirror. Globally, digital health is now a $350bn market, and McKinsey expects this figure to almost double in the next five years.
85% of healthtech revenue will soon come from enablement, data, platforms, and delivery, according to research by Deloitte. The UK-based, AI-assisted diagnosis app Babylon Health, for instance, has grown a userbase of over 8m patients, with no signs of stopping. Deloitte also projects that the balance of healthcare is shifting from care and treatment to health and wellbeing. In this growing market, there is room for innovation everywhere, from travel dialysis to fertility, cosmetics, and other forms of medical tourism.
Digital is Nothing to be Scared of
Virtual consultations have become more popular, and private healthcare has been better at offering this, but many public practices, particularly small ones cannot make snap decisions when it comes to how they operate. Governments, private insurers, and regulators need to work together (at least in Europe) to make digital transformation happen.
There can be a gap between the technology being accepted by regulators and healthcare adapting to these systems. Innovators are stepping up massively to meet the demands of mainstream use. They’re disrupting the accepted norm and educating the industry. And as a result, patients and healthcare providers alike are becoming more trusting of digital solutions and new healthcare propositions.
Healthtech is also helping bring new practices to the forefront. Therapeutic services are now offering new ways to navigate chronic illness and mental health; femtech startups are enabling women to track fertility and manage their gynaecological health; and cosmetic apps are using augmented reality to demonstrate how a user could alter their appearance.
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Unlocking Better Healthcare With Technology
There is a growing expectation that people should be able to access medical advice outside of a traditional doctor visit. Screening tech options, such as Niramai, are enabling women to detect early-stage breast cancer from the comfort of their homes. Cosmetic surgery platforms like Selfologi will allow users to educate themselves about their best options before they book an appointment. And fertility apps like Flo, which has just completed a $50m Series B funding round, are making curated tracking, personalised insights and health alerts the norm.
Research by Accenture showed that the younger generations are becoming more and more dissatisfied with traditional healthcare services and are seeking out more convenient and efficient alternatives online. Just as Gen Z has little affinity with brick-and-mortar bank branches and more of an appetite for Fintech, they also have more of a connection with digital healthcare. In this new landscape of e-pharmacies, wellness apps, and integrated services, it’s the most seamless experiences that will win out.
To get the best of both the offline and online world, blended technology is the best way forwards. For example, X-Wrist, a fitness watch, rewards users for beating challenges with tokens they can spend elsewhere. With Weavr’s embedded finance platform, X-Wrist owners can use their watch like a contactless card to spend their tokens on the go. It’s a perfect example of personal health management, online marketplaces, and healthtech colliding to create something new.
Efficiency is the Route for Better Experiences
Incorporating virtual solutions into traditional healthcare is well underway, but why stop there? Efficiency and ease of use are key to these experiences, and embedded finance helps drive that on both sides of the screen. Users are able to pay for treatments or book fitness and wellbeing sessions without being redirected elsewhere to complete the payment, and companies can have total oversight and control over their revenue.
Before 2020, the integration of healthtech was already underway, but the pandemic was evidence that the sector needed to go further and that the required tools already existed. Now, as we figure out what a post-COVID world looks like, there’s an opportunity to bridge the gap between the old way of doing things and the new.
To disrupt the industry, services will need to create an optimal customer experience across their entire ecosystem which is seamless, offers secure health services, and includes finance or payment elements.
Written by Alex Mifsud, Co-founder and CEO at Weavr.io