What are the key healthcare trends of 2014? Which ones might be a factor next year and in subsequent years?
According to the market research firm Kalorama Information, which publishes forty to fifty detailed studies in healthcare markets every year, the list is based on the news events, growth rates of markets the firm studies and information requests the firm gets from industry participants. As reported in Pharmaceutical Processing, here are the top five of 2014:
Growth from BRIC nations was good but not as good as expected. BRIC, an acronym for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China combined, demonstrated economic growth that was faster than the United States markets but not as fast as in previous years. Goldman Sachs coined the acronym in a report from 2003, which speculated that by 2050 these four economies would be wealthier than most of the current major economic powers. The BRIC thesis posits that China and India will become the world's dominant suppliers of manufactured goods and services, respectively, while Brazil and Russia will become similarly dominant as suppliers of raw materials. Due to lower labor and production costs, many companies also cite BRIC as a source of foreign expansion opportunity.
Pharmaceutical Processing says, "For instance Brazil at 2.5, China at 7.7% -- high growth but not as high as 2010 (both countries at 10% growth). Kalorama believes this will impact manufacturer plans to use these emerging markets to counter slow revenue growth in developed markets."
The next trend cited in the list is that the next-generation sequencer has evolved into clinical medicine. The story says, "There is high interest in the healthcare industry in using lower cost, smaller size and fast DNA sequencing for better understanding of disease and specific abnormalities, particularly in enhancing the study of tumors. The increased use of sequencing may enhance some existing test products and may compete with others."
With the improvement of high-throughput biotechnologies and the rapid decrease in DNA sequencing cost and time, genomics-based personalized medicine has already been practiced in a number of prestigious places. Major companies are providing and improving the instrumentation.
A third trend is the interest in patient monitoring solutions and telemedicine for better outcomes and more efficient care. The article says that "remote patient monitoring systems inside hospitals or connecting healthcare workers to patients at home continue to demonstrate revenue growth and customer demand." Kalorama projects that the market will reach "29 billion by year end and will grow at a rate of 9% for the next four years."
The trend is especially significant in rural areas and underdeveloped countries where access to a flesh-and-blood doctor might not be readily available. Telemedicine also facilitates collaborations among colleagues all over the world, in the hope that elusive cures can be found. It has been discussed for many years, but technology is now making it a reality.
Fourth, Kalorama cites the demand for biopharmaceutical production, relating that "the need to produce new biopharmaceutical drugs is driving the market for the companies that will handle the production and for the equipment used in the process." The study says that the market demonstrated 11% revenue growth and reached 41 billion this year. According to Kalorama, "with the investment in recent years in biotechnology companies, this type of growth is expected to continue."
Finally, Kalorama says that medical device companies are growing by buying, relating that "several large device mergers were concluded or announced in 2014, most notably Medtronic and Covidien. In addition to several acquisitions by Stryker, Zimmer announced this year the acquisition of Biomet Inc. Becton Dickinson announced it would purchase CareFusion."
Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information, says these trends cut across healthcare industries and will alter the way the market for healthcare products and services looks in 2015. As he explained, "While IVD makers wonder how sequencing figures into their strategies, device companies may look for the next acquisition target to counter what competitors have done. Healthcare systems will be eyeing telemedicine solutions, and investors will seek new biopharm drug companies with potential, and those companies will try to obtain production sources.