The healthcare sector has been affected by the changes of the pandemic like no other. 

Now health is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. The world has seen a huge growth of people wanting to take better care of themselves – and they’re happy to do it virtually. Meanwhile, the pressures of the pandemic have forced a change in the way the sector views digital systems, virtual consultations and e-pharmacies, along with access to care provision. 

Perhaps subconsciously, users and patients are beginning to ask, “great digital experiences are everywhere now, why not in healthcare too?”

For innovators and businesses, this question is an opportunity. More than ever before, there is an open door to shape the future of health and wellbeing.

Opportunities in every aspect of healthcare

Telemedicine, operations software and insurtechs have already begun disrupting the healthcare sector. As a result, since 2016, the value of Europe-based healthtech has increased from $8bn to $41bn. In just five years, it’s multiplied in value by six. 

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has only accelerated this growth. But considering the advantages of new tech – from improved outcomes to cost-efficiency – the sector isn’t going to shift back again once Covid is in the rearview mirror. Globally, digital health is now a $350bn market, and McKinsey expects this figure to almost double in the next five years.

This is not only the impact of virtual consultations and telemedicine. Deloitte predicts that new forms of enablement, data, platforms and delivery will soon drive 85% of revenue in healthtech.  The UK-based, AI-assisted diagnosis app Babylon Health, for instance, has grown a user-base of over 8m patients, with no signs of stopping.

Deloitte also projects that the balance of healthcare is shifting from care and treatment to health and wellbeing. In this growing market, there is room for innovation everywhere from travel dialysis to fertility, cosmetics and other forms of medical tourism.

Shaking the scepticism around digital

Generally speaking, private healthcare has been much more open to offering virtual consultations. But many public practices – particularly small ones – cannot make snap decisions when it comes to how they operate. Governments, private insurers and regulators need to work together (at least in Europe) to make digital transformation happen. 

Coordination can take time here, and there is often a significant gap between when technology is accepted by regulators, when it is adapted in the healthcare system and when innovators are able to generate revenue. 

But by first targeting secondary care and private healthcare services, healthtech can demonstrate a value proposition that’s impossible for healthcare providers – and the public organisations that govern them – to overlook. Not just for medical appointments but also mental wellbeing, personal fitness and even pet care.

Innovators are stepping up massively to meet the demands of mainstream use. They’re disrupting the accepted norm and educating the industry. And as a result, patients and healthcare providers alike are becoming more trusting of digital solutions and new healthcare propositions.

For healthtech isn’t only making the old more efficient. Therapeutic services are now offering new ways to navigate chronic illness and mental health; femtech startups are enabling women to track fertility and manage their gynecological health; and cosmetic apps are using augmented reality to demonstrate how a user could alter their appearance.

The user experience across these tools is still not entirely optimal. That’s perhaps only to be expected given how the sector was thrown into using them almost overnight. But while there’s still a way to go, users have quickly become comfortable with healthtech, while new players in the market are constantly innovating better solutions. And all this means there’s fertile ground for the integration of digital healthcare platforms to take root beyond the pandemic.

Technology is the key to better healthcare

Users aren’t only realising the benefits of digital healthcare, there’s also a growing expectation that people should be able to access medical advice outside of a traditional doctor visit. 

Screening tech like Niramai is enabling women to detect early-stage breast cancer from the comfort of their home. Cosmetic surgery platforms like selfology will allow users to educate themselves about their best options before they book an appointment. And fertility apps like Flo, which has just completed a $50m Series B funding round, are making curated tracking, personalised insights and health alerts the norm. 

Healthcare is an industry that’s grown up in an analogue world. The main premise has been that patients should travel to physical locations for in-person appointments. But that premise is turning out to be an assumption, one ripe for disruption, and it’s an opportunity for both tech developers and healthcare providers to embrace.

According to research by Accenture, younger generations are becoming more and more dissatisfied with traditional healthcare services and are seeking out more convenient and efficient alternatives online. Just as Gen Z has little affinity with brick and mortar bank branches, and more of an appetite for Fintech, so it is with healthcare. And in this new landscape of e-pharmacies, wellness apps and integrated services, it’s the most seamless experiences that will win out. 

As that trend continues, technology is the way to combine the best of the offline and online world. Like X-Wrist, a fitness watch that rewards users for beating challenges with tokens they can spend. With Weavr’s embedded finance system X-Wrist owners can use their watch like a contactless card to spend their tokens on the go. It’s a perfect example of where personal health management, online marketplaces and healthtech are colliding to create something new. 

Efficiency is the road to adoption

Now that we’ve come so far down the road of incorporating virtual solutions into traditional healthcare, it doesn’t make sense to stop here. Regulators and traditionally conservative service providers need to seriously embrace digitisation. And, if the mainstream use of healthtech platforms is going to continue growing, innovators need to match the optimum digital experiences that users enjoy – and expect – in other areas of their lives. 

You can see this attention to detail in the intuitive design of Babylon Health, in the simplicity of booking with Docplanner and Doctorlib, in the effortlessness of French insurtech Alan, and in the speed of the Swedish digital health leader, Kry.

Efficiency and ease of use are key to these experiences, and embedded finance helps drive that on both sides of the screen. Users are able to pay for treatments or book fitness and wellbeing sessions without being redirected elsewhere to complete the payment, and companies can have total oversight and control over their revenue.

These platforms also need to be secure, especially in an industry like healthcare. New systems are almost always prone to attack, and when companies try to build everything themselves there’s always a risk they’ll leave a backdoor open for hackers to get in. That’s one of the reasons we do what we do, to offer companies a tried and tested solution with built in compliance-as-a-service that protects them from fraud and misuse.

The integration of healthtech was already happening before 2020. But the pandemic was evidence that the sector needed to go further, and that the required tools already exist. Now, as we figure out what a post-Covid world looks like, there’s an opportunity to bridge the gap between the old way of doing things and the new. 

And the most seamless, secure health services – that offer an optimal customer experience across their entire ecosystem, including finance or payment elements –  will be the services that disrupt the industry and stick around.

Embedding financial services into your product or service has never been simpler. The Weavr platform provides everything you need to integrate financial services seamlessly into your mobile app or SaaS application, safely, smoothly, and without the usual compliance burden. You can easily and quickly integrate finance capabilities such as cards, accounts and IBANs into your UX and workflows, for a seamless customer experience that directly enhances your offering.

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