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3 predictions on global healthcare

Frost & Sullivan, a US-based growth consulting firm, has released its three big predictions for the global healthcare market.

Based on a "2013 Search for Growth" survey that involved 1,835 executives in more than 40 countries worldwide, Frost & Sullivan's insight highlights new areas of growth. So-called mHealth (medical and public health practice by mobile devices), cloud computing in healthcare, and regulatory environments will be the key subjects in 2014 and beyond.

All in all, three big predictions may be formulated based on the survey's results.

First, as healthcare is geared towards a personalised-medicine model, companion diagnostics will alter drug development and the commercialisation process of drug candidates. Combining bio-markers and drugs will result in enhanced efficacy and safety.

Second, the healthcare and life sciences industry will consolidate further, with many big pharmaceutical companies seeking alternatives to the blockbuster model.

Connected platforms

Finally, the rise of new technologies capable of integrating medical devices into a connected platform will enhance the functionality of devices, reduce the manpower burden and minimise errors.

"Frost & Sullivan's research team has used the findings to select and prioritise the subjects that are deemed to be poised for the greatest growth," said Dorman Followwill, a partner in the firm. "The insight has also been essential in unveiling the business outlook for pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, clinical diagnostics and medical devices, as well as to provide a global perspective on the industry's geographical hot spots."

The expansion of mHealth is fuelled by the unprecedented spread of mobile technologies, as well as advancements in their innovative application to address health priorities. It is supported by mobile phones, patient-monitoring devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and other wireless devices.

The penetration prospects of mHealth technologies are significant in a number of areas. These include wireless vital-signs monitoring, location-aware tele-monitoring systems and Bluetooth-enabled health trackers.

In addition, as more healthcare information technology and patient-monitoring tools are integrated, every hospital facility will eventually have to acquire a full-enterprise wireless solution. The most innovative mobile healthcare solutions that best meet pressing healthcare needs will be adopted as the gold standard, the firm says.

Enterprise-wide healthcare informatics will also improve the quality of medical services and efficiency of operations while reducing expenditures, it says.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is considered a key enabler for enterprise-wide solutions. Implementing cloud-computing technologies appropriately will help healthcare providers improve the quality of medical services and the efficiency of operations, share information across geographic locations and manage expenditures. The concept can be applied in a variety of ways, including data storage and data-loss prevention, maintaining patient information records and authorised sharing of information.

The advantages that cloud computing provides can change the dynamics of the healthcare-informatics industry, the firm says. The need for efficient sharing of data in a synchronised manner will be a key driver for cloud computing.

As for regulatory environments, recent healthcare reforms and policy initiatives across many countries have emphasised the importance of quality of care more than quantity. In the absence of a sufficient proof of clinical benefit, reimbursements may pose a key hurdle.

Other hot areas that emerged from the survey include: the cancer-market outlook, remote monitoring, the drug-delivery market, patient and consumer engagement, healthcare dashboards, e-health medical records, growth drivers for medical devices, the outsourcing market for drug-discovery research, home-care market trends, video tele-medicine and cardiovascular therapeutics.

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