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Abundant opportunities in the expanding health sector are attracting new players from far afield, from Fortune 50 retailers and telecom companies to fledgling startups backed by venture capital.
Consumer-oriented companies of all stripes are entering the health-care space – and technology is fuelling the shift. “When we look at the Fortune 50, three out of every four companies have some role in health care,” says Vaughn Kauffman, Principal and New Entrants Practice Leader with PwC’s Health Industries Practice. “About half of those we would characterize as non-traditional healthcare organizations or new entrants.”
These players range from big-box retailers running clinics to telecom companies providing mobile solutions. They also include Ford Motor Co., which is creating services to help people manage chronic conditions while driving. This new health economy is meeting demand from consumers who are ready to receive care in novel ways. In a 2013 Canadian survey conducted for PwC, 83 per cent of patients said they definitely would, or are likely to, use online prescription refill services.
Meanwhile, 50 per cent of those surveyed believed that mobile health apps will make care more convenient and improve access. “I certainly see a world where more information is created through wearable devices and other platforms, and that information presented to patients will help engage the way they consume health care,” Cleveland-based Kauffman says.
The economic opportunities are huge. Many companies enter health care through the wellness market, Kauffman notes. In 2012, Americans spent $267-billion (U.S.) on wellness products and services such as nutritional supplements and fitness training.
Worldwide, Kauffman sees private industry putting consumers at the centre of the new health economy. “There’s recognition across the globe of the importance of having consumers engaged not only when they’re sick, but also when they’re healthy and taking greater responsibility in managing their own health,” he says.