Healthcare and HealthTech are becoming more sophisticated every year. The world is grappling with a quickly aging population, climbing comfort expectations, and increasing life expectancies in most countries. Governments have long been custodians of national health systems in the most developed countries (except for the U.S. and South Africa), and even their resources are being stretched thin now, while industry paradigms are shifting from the old to the new.
Investments are being made at unprecedented levels in automation, digitization, connections, new medical devices, and treatments. These investments are aimed at sustaining public health at reasonable costs while bringing results and convenience of healthcare and wellness, which will enable longer, happier lives.
We can see it in the numbers: the global healthcare market reached a value of nearly $8,452 billion in 2018, having grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3% since 2014. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.9% to nearly $11,908.9 billion by 2022, far exceeding any economic growth of any country.
Major healthcare players of the world are trying to figure out how to create a value-chain of healthcare and health treatments/fulfillment by combining digital and other 21st century technologies: AI, VR, remote robotics, home care, etc. However, even the largest companies, like CVSHealth, have a hard time developing end-to-end solutions that work.
We asked the innovation and technology leadership at CVSHealth, the #1 global corporation in healthcare and pharmacy when CVS planned to implement a seamless, mobile-based, remote, and effective end-to-end value chain for healthcare diagnostics and treatment. The answer was: “We have it on our 5-year best-case scenario roadmap for very simple routine use cases, but we are not very optimistic, because it is very complex to make it happen and make it work well. We don’t have all the resources we want, we don’t have every technology needed to implement it, and when we eventually get it through the development phase thanks to partners, acquisitions or else – it will still be very hard to make it work end-to-end. We are constantly looking for technology partners.”
If the largest health company in the world is not so optimistic—should Koreans join or compete?
In our first article, we suggested that Korean innovators should join efforts with the world’s giants, like IBM or Microsoft, to come up with solutions where each party would bring its strength: Korea – robotics and electronics, other parties – software and AI.
Another possible path for us would be joining the vision of CVS or similar specialized healthcare players and fill in their blanks with our innovation as a partner to benefit from the results.
Or, we can try to compete. Korean culture is strong, thanks to being very organized and collaborative. Can we pull together our innovative resources, make an investment, and with the addition of some missing handpicked foreign technologies, create an end-to-end digital health solution, blending digital and real-life experiences for our citizens? Can we export it around the world and gain influence, export revenues, and leadership status in innovation beyond robots?
Partnership or competition, this effort would make a critical contribution to South Korea: we have the fastest aging population, among developed countries, that will badly need some scalable, technology-driven solutions to provide the elderly generations with the healthcare and the long-term care they need, in lieu of the vanishing hyodo (filial piety).
Can Korea become the leader of global healthcare? We believe we can. However, as we are standing still, the world is moving. We should decide on a path to take, or walk multiple paths to ensure one of them will bring us to global leadership and solve our own problems.