Changing demographics, ever-evolving regulatory schemes, political pressure to cut costs and social pressure to improve care has led to strong growth in consulting to the global healthcare sector...
A new report by leading global consulting market analysts Source Information Services (Source) says the global healthcare consulting market grew by over seven per cent last year to $6.33bn.
Much of this growth can be attributed to the changes sweeping through the US healthcare sector, which makes up almost two thirds (62 per cent) of the global healthcare consulting market. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has fundamentally reshaped the way Americans receive care, and as insurers feel their way through the transition from being B2B to B2C providers, they're turning to consultants to help them do so, often by means of technology-led solutions.
As with most of the wider consulting market, technology is playing an important role in consulting to the healthcare sector and now makes up a third of the overall market ($2.08bn). The Source report says that technology continues to be critical to improving outdated record keeping systems and protecting and managing vital patient information. At the same time digitisation is playing an increasingly important role on the delivery side, as providers are eager to explore the possibilities that new technology offers for diagnosing, monitoring, and treating patients. The report says that technology is also providing valuable cost savings and efficiencies while meeting ever greater demand.
B.J. Richards, a healthcare consulting specialist from Source, said: "Healthcare clients told us that improving existing technology was their number one priority in 2014 and exploring new technologies was a close second. Despite this propensity to improve technology, only around half of those with technology projects on the agenda claim they are likely to use consultants. So while this is a significant opportunity, it's not necessarily an easy one to get."
Despite the overall growth, there are huge variances between geographies. The Russian market shrank by four per cent whereas, despite healthcare not being a major sector, the GCC healthcare consulting market grew by 29 per cent in 2013. The report says that there's a growing demand for high quality healthcare in the GCC from both local and expat constituencies, and the UAE is making a push to become a healthcare destination — particularly in the cosmetic surgery arena, where they're promoting the availability of procedures at a lower cost than in Europe. The development of infrastructure and the transformation of existing services, particularly around IT enablement, is also driving consulting demand.
B.J. Richards from Source concluded: "It is very much a time of change in the global healthcare sector, as public and private institutions in virtually every market are dealing with some mix of changing demographics, ever-evolving regulatory schemes, political pressure to cut costs, social pressure to improve care, and expenses that are rising at unmanageable rates. The need to respond to these pressures has led to a wave of reform and restructuring across the healthcare landscape that can mean significant opportunities for consultants ready to help take on the challenges."