Perfect storm blows healthtech towards IoT cures

Perfect storm blows healthtech towards IoT cures

A perfect storm of societal changes and converging technologies is driving both innovation and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the healthtech sector, says a new report.

In this hyper-competitive market, it will be “imperative for healthcare and medical systems to innovate and provide improved outcomes at lower costs”.

The report, by M&A consultants Hampleton Partners, reveals that over £9.5 billion in disclosed deals were signed in the second half of 2017 – a fourfold increase from the first half of the year, and 140 per cent up year on year.

Over three-quarters (77 percent) of these were driven from the US, it says.

Ageing populations, budgetary pressures, and changing patient demands are among the trends spurring innovation, via technologies such as the IoT, AI, and robotics.

New players

Hampleton expects a raft of new players to enter the healthcare M&A market this year, inspired by moves from the likes of Amazon, Apple, and Google, which “have access to consumers, devices, data, and vast resources to drive change, even in a highly regulated market”, it says.

On 30 January, Amazon announced its intention to enter the US healthcare sector by teaming up with Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate and the US’ largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, to form a not-for-profit group focused on reducing patients’ costs.

Looking back on 2H 2017, the report says:

“Driven by profound changes in society and advances in technology, the demand for software, IT-enabled services – as well as high-tech devices – provided a strong boost to dealmaking and the provision of healthcare.

“Spanning life sciences, biotech, and medtech, the vast sector is experiencing a seismic shift in the funding and modernisation of a broad range of assets, from consumer-facing apps and more advanced technology for healthcare workflows, to electronic healthcare records and machine-learning-backed data for disease prevention, communication services, and a host of other demands.”

Jonathan Simnett, director of Hampleton Partners, said: “Advanced healthcare systems around the world are struggling to deal with the perfect storm of spiralling costs allied to rising patient expectations, more expensive treatments, and the consequences of dealing with ageing populations and chronic lifestyle diseases.

“This vast healthcare sector, where patient care systems have remained largely unchanged for decades, is experiencing a seismic shift in funding and technology innovation.

“The customer care and logistics expertise that comes with Amazon’s market-moving plan to offer healthcare services is an indication of just how big this shift is going to be,” he added.

Internet of Business says

In some parts of the world, the challenge of looking after ageing populations over the next 20 years should be considered alongside a collapse in social and healthcare investment. The UK’s per capita social care expenditure has fallen by one-third in real terms over the past decade, and this general trend is mirrored in countries such as Japan and the US.

Technologies such as AI, robotics, and the IoT could complement traditional care in the coming decades.

For example, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella described AI as a “transformative force”, which will help oncologists “use cutting-edge object-recognition technology to not only do early detection of tumours, but also to predict tumour growth so that the right regimen can be applied”.

Yet it’s important not to regard ageing populations as merely passive recipients of IoT-enabled care: many are quite capable of making their own decisions. For example, a recent survey found that one-third of people over the age of 55 have already implemented smart home technologies, while the Economist Intelligence Unit produced a report last year saying that people over the age of 60 are the most disruptive users of new technologies.

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