Monday, 18 April 2016

Healthcare market growth in this decade

Among the many conquests of society during the past century, the dramatic increase in average life expectancy of humans remain its greatest. As the life span of humans took huge leaps so escalated the ageing population. The baby bloomers became the generation of ‘silver tsunami’. Earnings increased, lifestyles got modernized and technology became integrated into the daily routines. 

The thrust of healthcare market over the past decade has been driven by these factors like an ageing populace, urbanization, increase in disposable incomes, higher demands for quality care, increased incidence of chronic diseases and lifestyle-related diseases.

As the population and their needs increased, so increased the demand for quality healthcare. Some stats about the growing healthcare industry in GCC countries, according to Alpen Capital are-
  • The GCC healthcare market is projected to grow at a 12.1 percent compound annual growth rate from an estimated $40.3 billion in 2015 to $71.3 billion in 2020.
  • From $24 billion in 2015, the outpatient market is forecast to reach $42.4 billion in 2020 while the inpatient market is foreseen to grow from $16.4 billion to $28.9 billion.
  • 101,797 in 2015 to 113,925 in 2020 is the growth estimated for the demand for number of hospital beds in the GCC region.
  • Among the GCC countries, Saudi Arabia is the largest health care market and will continue to be so, followed by UAE.
  • Qatar and the UAE are expected to have the fastest growth during the next few years in the field.

    These rising needs compel the governments of GCC to explore newer and improved options. The existing infrastructure needs to be expanded. Onus should be on initiating new strategies to enhance current health care systems through the use of new technologies, modern medical care systems and collaboration of public private partnerships. Foraying into the modern world of healthcare technologies like remote visits, robotic surgeries, telemedicine, digitization of healthcare records and patient management systems will help the countries keep up with the demands with quicker services. Shifting focus from treatment to prevention by using accountable care models will ensure high-
quality care and wise spending of health care dollars. Along with big hospitals, focus should also be on improving smaller clinics and ambulatory centers that serve the needs of the patients in residential areas. These centers, besides its low investment, generate quick returns. 
Over the past few years inbound medical tourism is on the rise in GCC and it can be expected to maintain its increase in the coming years. The governments are realising that this is a potential resource for growth and providing initiatives to support the trend. However, there is a continued shortage of health care professionals across the GCC. Unequal access to health care facilities remains an obstacle in the area. Health care costs are on the rise with the adoption of newer technologies. All this points to the simple fact that across the Middle East, there is a need for private sector to supplement the efforts of the government to meet the demands. The governments across the GCC should put into effect public-private partnership models to help reduce financial risks, increase the quality of services and encourage innovation.

As the governments implement improved health insurance solutions, it can be predicted that the healthcare industry will continue its growth as more people are able to afford and use medical care. The coming decade is going to see the health care industry flourish into a full fledged market and an attractive sector for investments. They will have to partner, collaborate, innovate and keep pace with the needs of society. Governments should gear up for this challenge by encouraging private sector growth, optimizing the existing operations and embracing technological advances to raise the quality as well as the reach of health care services in GCC countries and beyond.

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