Report suggests global healthcare expenditure may reach 7.5% in 2020

Photo by Sandro Porfirio

According to Lux Research, a provider of tech-enabled research and advisory services for technology innovation, the increasing prevalence of chronic disease, rapidly aging populations, and huge middle-class growth in developing economies are combining to push the growth in global healthcare expenditure from 2.4% in 2015 to an estimated 7.5% by 2020, making this year’s growth alone an additional $750 billion.

For many countries, this growth in healthcare expenditure will exceed annual GDP growth, making it challenging to support national health budgets. New ways to manage this unsustainable growth are needed.

Digital technologies can offer ways to tackle this challenge, and in fact, a wide range of digital technologies are already being deployed today, according to Lux Research’s report “The Digital Transformation of Healthcare” which analyzed how digital technologies are being used by the major stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem today, namely healthcare providers, solutions providers, payers, and patients, to not only reduce healthcare costs but also improve health outcomes.

Individuals over 65 years of age will increase from 0.5 billion in 2010 to 1.5 billion by 2050, putting pressure on a system already spending $3 trillion annually on chronic disease. Additionally, the global middle-class segment is expected to increase from 27% in 2009 to 59% in 2030, with 90% of that growth coming from China, India, and Southeast Asia alone.

The report analyzes the impact digital tools have on the different stakeholders today to reduce the cost of conditions like diabetes, which already has a global cost of $1.3 trillion and is expected to double over the coming decade. The report finds that digital transformation has the greatest impact on areas like clinical trial management within R&D and decision support within provision of care today.

However, other areas, such as digital therapeutics for the provision of care and interoperability of electronic health records (EHRs) for hospital operations, while seeing a relatively low impact today, will play a bigger role in the near future.

“New and innovative approaches are needed to rein in costs and scale the provision of care to keep pace with globally changing healthcare demands. Technologies like health IoT, blockchain, artificial intelligence, robotics and virtual reality will all impact the healthcare ecosystem,” said Nardev Ramanathan, Ph.D., analyst at Lux Research and lead author of the report. “Today the right technologies are in place, such as smartphones and the internet of things, to meet those demands.”

“Digital transformation is poised to transform the way the entire healthcare industry operates. The role of the patient or consumer becomes more than just a passive recipient of care but rather an active player whose decisions and quality of life influence product development,” he explained.

“The healthcare system is shifting toward a more patient-centric decentralized model, where the healthcare provider’s role is shifting toward more of a control center, deploying resources as needed to optimize models rather than being the central node of care,” he concluded.