Healthcare is a sector that we knew would not only survive but thrive in – ironically – the most dangerous pandemic of recent times.
Interestingly, the pandemic has goaded us into changing our interaction with the Healthcare industry in ways that would have normally taken decades.
Healthcare is the most exciting sector for investment and innovation, after fintech. While the number of Unicorns created in fintech reached 136 in the last year, healthcare Unicorns hit a healthy 91, with over 1,900 deals being recorded. Asia is the fastest-growing region for healthcare innovation, followed by a slowing trend in North America.
Now, of course, we avoid a face-to-face appointment if we possibly can, discussing health issues over a video call. But, it is not only in our interaction with healthcare providers that has changed dramatically. It seems as if the quiet research and investment in new treatments are paying off as well.
Treatments such as gene therapy are going mainstream, and it looks as if our understanding of our genes and DNA will dictate the direction of treatment for the future. Recently, a treatment called gene silencing was used to manage severe pain in patients with a specific disease. It reduced the pain to very manageable levels (the patients got their lives back) in over 75% of cases.
Ironically, healthcare is the beneficiary of medical emergencies, but it has always been the case. The current healthcare giants came out of the big wars of the 20th century when morphine became the drug to manage pain.
There are, of course, downsides to the boom in healthcare and the changes that are happening to our ways of life. The pandemic’s impact on healthcare systems has taken its toll on patients all over the world. Cancer patients are still being bumped down the list of operations, and healthcare ecosystems remain under extreme pressure. Other vital and urgent treatments have been severely delayed. This also means that patients will be treated later in a cycle than would otherwise be the case. People do not want to see a doctor during a pandemic if symptoms are not advanced and painful.
While there are immediate downsides, it remains the case that healthcare is seeing a huge boost, as witnessed by the level of investment and the advances in treatments.
Once the urgency and focus on the pandemic begins to recede, it looks as if we will see something that looks remarkably like a golden age of healthcare, treatments and medical history.