The Deloitte 2014 Global Health Care Outlook has synthesized research into the global health sector to produce an examination of past trends and future predictions for the coming year (read about Deloitte’s research overview and designated Top Issues here).
Within its report, Deloitte has included market reports on the health care sector in a number of countries; exploring how cost, personnel numbers, changing technology and more is likely to affect these nations’ medical sectors during 2014 and the years beyond.
In the Americas, the countries garnering the most interest of researchers were Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States. It’s no great astonishment that the health care sector in the United States will continue to be dominated by the issues of high cost and new Affordable Care Act regulations; however, readers of the Deloitte report may be surprised to learn that medical industries in Brazil are rapidly growing thanks to the nation’s production of generic pharmaceuticals.
However, despite the Brazilian government’s push to encourage medicine production and get those drugs to low-income customers in South and Central America, protests around Brazil demonstrate a need for more money to be put into the health care system. Private insurance and hospitals are common in Brazil, but only utilized by citizens who can afford it – everyone else must use public facilities, where they may face longer wait times and less-than-adequate care. The Deloitte report notes that with better national investment into medical technology and hospital administration, public care in Brazil can be improved.
Like Brazil, Mexico also has room to grow when it comes to the nation’s public health sector. Health care spending has been steadily increasing and is expected to continue to do so, however, Mexico still has the least number of hospital beds per person of all OECD countries – OECD being an organization formed post World War II that also includes such nations as Turkey, Greece and Chile. The Mexican government has announced that universal health coverage could soon be in effect, but international groups agree that the country also improve the quality of health services: getting rid of outdated equipment, cutting down long wait times, and implementing more education and prevention programs.
Although health care in Western Europe is in many ways more developed than that in the Americas, Deloitte reports that health care sectors in Europe are also in the process of overcoming challenges. Germany, for example, is expected to see a significant rise in citizens over the age of 65 over the next few years – a statistic that could lead to significant strain on the nation’s health care system. Germany has also seen falling rates of medical graduates in recent years, another factor that could lead the government to consider new recruitment programs and greater cost control measures across the health care system.
The United Kingdom has already seen such austerity measures: during the past three years, Britain has kept health care spending basically level (seeing a rise of only 0.1 percent spending) while at the same time demand has grown by an average 4 percent every year. Deloitte researchers say that budget constrictions will continue to grow and put increasing pressures upon hospitals and personnel as they work out how to offer adequate medical care while preventing major cost increases.
Like Germany, the United Kingdom is also expected to see increased pressure on public services due to an aging population. Deloitte has deemed this the U.K.’s Top Issue for 2014, commenting that the growth in citizens over the age of 65 will lead to corresponding increases in rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, dementia and illnesses related to obesity.
Despite similar concerns about chronic, lifestyle-related diseases in the Middle East, health care sectors in this part of the world are expected to see positive industry growth in the coming years. In fact, researchers have even found that some countries, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, increasingly see health care provision as a means of improving political situations at home and abroad, and of generating positive press for the nation and its government. Thanks to high standards of care, use of new technology and the presence of medical tourism, both cost and quality of health care in the Middle East are expected to continue to improve.
Saying that, the Middle East must still contend with disparities between health care sectors in urban versus rural areas. Along with investing more resources into programs that better distribute care to those living outside of major cities, nations within the Middle East may also focus on creating more homegrown medical talent in the next few years – at the moment, nursing and physician positions are dominantly held by expatriates.
The only non-Northern African country that Deloitte explores in its report is South Africa, a nation expected to see a rise in expenditures as well as revenues. Like many developing nations, South Africa will continue to struggle with rising rates of diseases both communicable (including HIV and tuberculosis) and non-communicable (in particular lifestyle-related conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease). This so-called double burden of disease will likely cause South Africa to increase spending and continue campaigns to make medicines more affordable and improve delivery of health care to citizens who need it most. The South African government has also proposed that a National Health Insurance scheme be created; a project which could bring new progress and investment to the nation’s health care sector.
Over in Asia, the health care industry of India is likewise anticipated to see big growth in the next five years. Considered an emerging market due to its growing population and wealth, the health care industry of India is expected to be worth over US$150 billion by 2017. Driving this growth will be factors including more purchases of private insurance, greater affluence resulting in greater health care spending from both the government and consumers, and the development and sales of generic medicines. The health care technology market in India is also expected to continue its positive growth, as electronic data and communication increasingly replace paper-based methods of patient records.
The Deloitte report also notes that as in many emerging health care markets, the Indian sector will see growth in medical tourism. Patients from Africa and the Middle East have already made India a destination for affordable and competent medical treatments, and researchers predict that as health services in India grow and improve, medical tourism will continue to expand.