Even before the pandemic made regular testing the norm for billions of people, the healthcare industry was on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nearly two dozen healthcare-related occupations is expected to experience double-digit growth within the next decade.
While many of these opportunities are roles for healthcare providers, there are also endless possibilities for companies in the healthcare products and services sector.
Drivers of the Healthcare Management Boom
Baby Boomers, the largest generation in sheer numbers, are rapidly reaching their golden years. However, they are also healthier and anticipate longer lifespans than their predecessors. This will result in a growing demand for preventative healthcare and chronic disease management.
Advances in smart devices, data processing, and video conferencing technology have greatly lowered the cost of delivering individually-tailored healthcare. Instead of taking several trips to a doctor’s office, patients today can simply track their vital signs using a wearable monitor and automatically upload the data securely to their medical health record.
As these integrations can reduce physician workload and result in better patient outcomes, healthcare systems are eager to adopt technological solutions into their delivery models.
It would be remiss to not mention the significant impact the ongoing pandemic has had on the healthcare management industry. In order to continue the economy, governments and the private sector made massive investments in testing capacity, health tracking apps, and electronic health records for vaccines and past COVID history. These trends are likely to stay strong as the world watches for COVID variants and other emerging pathogens.
Entrepreneurial Opportunities in the Healthcare Sector
Healthcare apps are amongst the most valued portion of the mobile health industry, which leverages high levels of smartphone and internet penetration to attract customers. As of 2021, there are more than 300,000 health-focused apps in the marketplace.
Apps can seamlessly fit into many areas of healthcare, including vital monitoring, medication adherence, and lifestyle management. At the more sophisticated end of the market, healthcare apps can offer personalized medical advice based on the patient’s diagnosis and input from their primary care provider.
The myriad of COVID-related apps may pave the way for similar applications to collect data for public health bodies and track less wide-reaching, but still harmful epidemics.
While in-home testing has been available in some form for several years, the unprecedented presidential order to send at-home COVID testing kits to millions of American households has thrust the concept into the mainstream. Testing options expand far beyond COVID.
Individuals can order complete panels analyzing everything from fertility health to vitamin deficiencies. Although many of these same procedures can be carried out in a doctor’s office, ordering a home testing kit removes many of the obstacles and empowers individuals to make their own decisions about their healthcare.
Naturally, the growth of the home-testing industry has given rise to a demand for contract laboratories to process these results.
Companies can choose to manufacture, market, and analyze their own testing kits, or simply contract out analytics to an independent laboratory. Setting up a laboratory requires expertise, capital, and accreditation from Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and the College of American Pathologists (CAP).
While the process for meeting CLIA is publicly available, a resource for CAP accreditation is a bit more difficult to access. Entrepreneurs considering entering the laboratory processing industry can benefit from working with an experienced consulting firm.
Prior to the pandemic, medical providers were slowly rolling out telehealth services to connect difficult-to-reach populations to healthcare. The effort gained a considerable boost after COVID public health protocols forced people out of the workplace and into their homes. As telecommuting became the norm, resistance against video conferencing for other purposes began to decline.
The Department of Health and Human Service noted a 63 percent increase in telehealth usage amongst Medicare recipients. In general, people believe telehealth is secure and convenient. Although it won’t replace the essential human element in a face-to-face visit, healthcare systems are seeking robust telehealth platforms and technologies to supplement current services.
As telehealth has the potential to deeply reduce costs associated with emergency services and patient readmissions, governments and public health departments are looking very closely at solutions that can securely deliver virtual care. Entrepreneurs who can address current gaps in telehealth, such as data integration and physician onboarding, have the ability to tap into a trillion dollar industry.
Portable Healthcare Devices
Like the home-testing industry, portable healthcare devices have experienced widespread adoption as consumers demand more flexibility and control over their medical care.
One textbook example of a successful portable healthcare device is the home hemodialysis machine. Traditionally, kidney patients would have to travel from their homes to spend hours in a dialysis center. This model caused major disruptions to their routines, making it difficult to work or perform caregiving duties.
Home dialysis machines allow patients to receive life-extending treatment in the comfort of their homes. Unlike center-based machines, at-home dialysis uses a slower, gentler blood filtering method that reduces side effects like fatigue.
Portable healthcare devices also have applications for chronic illnesses, cardiovascular disease management, and conditions like sleep apnea and asthma.
Healthcare systems also reap benefits from portable healthcare devices as this delivery model reduces the cost of patient care while improving patient experience.