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These are the three trends likely to drive healthtech, disruption in the future

Innovation in health care is likely to be driven by three key trends in the future — an increasing demand for accountable care, the consumerisation of health care and the digital delivery of health care. This makes the sector ripe for disruption, says South African neurosurgeon David Roytowski.

Speaking at a seminar hosted by Bowmans and venture capital company Havaic at Bowman’s offices in the city on Thursday, Roytowski, who is based at Tygerberg Hospital, said these three trends will likely influence the quality, cost and access to health care. He added that increasing focus on one of these elements will likely diminish the other two pillars.

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He noted figures from a 2013 McKinsey report that reveals that in the US spending on health care has grown five times faster than gross domestic product (GDP) growth in recent years and now makes up 17.6% of the country’s GDP. This makes the sector all the more ripe for innovators to bring down the costs of health care.

Healthtech is likely to be driven by growing spend and increasing demand for quality, a neurosurgeon said

In addition, the growth of the middle-class in emerging markets is driving an increase in demand for quality care, he says.

Roytowski has a keen interest in tech. A number of years ago he built what he today refers to as the first information portal in South Africa for the medical profession — called What’s Up Doc. Now he is betting on three key trends that will disrupt the sector. Here they are.

Accountable care

An increasing number of patients don’t just want a medical procedure to be successful but want to feel that their quality of life is better after the procedure than before. “Payers are demanding a value based outcome not a clinical one,” adds Roytowski.

Consumerisation of health care

It has been customary for representatives from pharmaceutical companies to market new medical products to doctors who then advise patients of these. Roytowski points out that a growing number of patients are increasingly taking it upon themselves to approach their doctor to request a new medication or procedure they may have heard about in the media or elsewhere.

Digital delivery

Patients are also more willing than before to accept health-care advice via digital platforms rather than face-to-face.

In addition, the number of wearable devices has greatly increased the amount of data that medical providers and insurance companies have available from users.

The increased amount of data available can, together with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, bring down the cost of health care when it comes to interpreting medical information, believes Roytowski.

For example machine learning in radiology is being used to better interpret the X-rays — which could make radiologists redundant in the near future.

This can help offset the massive rise of late in health care costs, particularly in emerging markets — with Medical Protection Society fees paid by doctors to indemnify them, having increased a massive 29% between 2008 and 2015.

This all bodes well for entrepreneurs looking to disrupt the delivery of health-care services. The question now is whether it will result in more affordable and better health care for all.

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