The 2024 Global Healthcare Sector Outlook: Navigating transformation - Thoughts from the Centre | Deloitte UK

By Karen Taylor, Director of the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions

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In our recent report on the Future of Health (FoH) in Europe, we highlight the complex challenges faced by healthcare systems and the actions that are needed by all stakeholders to create more sustainable, equitable and cost-effective services.1 We contend that, by 2040, or sooner in some countries, healthcare will be radically different and will deliver better outcomes for all. The 2024 Global Health Care Sector Outlook launched by our colleagues in the Deloitte Global team, shows that many of the drivers needed to realise the FoH are already happening. This week’s blog provides an overview of the 2024 Outlook report and the five key trends that are shaping the more immediate future of healthcare delivery, and which have the potential to accelerate Deloitte’s FoH vision.  

Trend 1: Transforming care with AI

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare systems have embraced emerging technologies to address challenges such as cost reduction, access to care and the shortage of skilled workers. AI-enabled technologies offer the potential to personalise patient interactions, streamline administrative and care processes, and free up clinicians’ time, generating annual savings of up to US$360 billion for hospitals and payers in the US. However, realising the full potential of AI requires sustained investments in technology and ensuring trust and acceptance among providers, practitioners, and consumers. Health care and technology providers should prioritise responsible and safe use of trustworthy AI, free of bias, inaccuracies, and protected from data breaches.2

Report takeaways:

  • Predictive AI could predict future resource needs, analyse disparate data sets and identify high-impact patterns and trends, to provide intelligent diagnosis, personalised care plans and improve population health management.
  • AI regulations are rapidly evolving with different approaches in each country. For example, in 2021 the European Commission, which is leading the charge, has established a regulatory framework for AI which is expected to be implemented as early as 2024.3
  • Many healthcare organisations are still trying to understand what AI means for them. Deloitte has created a ‘Generative AI Dossier’ to provide different industries, including Life Sciences and Healthcare (LSHC), with insights and examples on issues and opportunities.4

Trend 2: Addressing cost and affordability

Rising health care costs pose a challenge to quality, access, and affordability globally. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated staffing shortages, which together with inflation, backlogs, and waiting times are driving up costs. In 2023, 47 per cent of providers say access is worse than in the past two years. Moreover, health inequalities further increase costs. Technology-enabled models can deliver more efficient and cost-effective care. To improve accessibility and affordability, countries should explore innovative solutions such as telehealth, remote monitoring and AI to optimise resource allocation, streamline processes, and personalise patient care.5

Report takeaways:

  • Health care organisations globally are beginning to implement innovative technologies such as virtual wards and AI-enabled diagnostic tools to reduce costs of age-related care, accelerate diagnoses and improve chronic disease management.
  • Medical tourism is increasingly seen as a means of bringing down health care costs. Asia, India, Thailand, and Turkey are some of the top medical tourist destinations.
  • The current cost environment requires new strategies to optimise operating models, prioritise workforce investments and increase digitalisation. Organisations need to build new capabilities, partnerships, and competencies.6

Trend 3: Responding to the looming shortfall in healthcare workers

In 2020 the global healthcare sector was facing a profound shortage of workers with a 6.5-fold difference in density between high-income and low-income countries and a shortfall of 15 million. Despite anticipated progress in creating more jobs and increasing the numbers in training, the latest projections suggest a shortfall of 10 million by 2030.7 This masks the considerable inequities and the impact of factors such as burnout, demographic changes, and migration rates. The ongoing surge in demand for healthcare workers (an estimated 29 per cent increase between 2020 and 2030) will require transformative measures to address this critical challenge.8

Report takeaways:

  • To improve recruitment and retention, healthcare leaders need to rebuild trust and restore meaning, value and purpose. Solutions include listening to frontline workers, recognising clinical autonomy, elevating their voice to leadership, providing fair and equitable rewards and building an inclusive culture.
  • Providers looking to help improve recruitment and retention, transform care models and redesign jobs by investing in technology to give time back to workers. They should also rethink the ‘who, what and where’ of care delivery, and inject flexibility into jobs.9

Trend 4: The role of social care

Some 80 per cent of health outcomes depend on behavioural, social, or environmental drivers of health. This requires the traditional treatment focused healthcare model to shift towards an integrated, holistic approach that addresses the non-medical determinants of illness and disease and incorporates social and health care services to prevent illness and promote well-being. A 2023 Deloitte study, examining how people perceive digital government services, showed that 75 per cent of respondents were comfortable with government agencies sharing personal data to provide integrated and personalised social care services. To transition to a social determinants-driven health care system, governments and health care providers should invest in the social care workforce and implement holistic and preventative models of service delivery that prioritise prevention and address the needs of underserved communities.10

Report takeaways:

  • Partnerships and sustainable frameworks for recruitment and training can help build a resilient roster of social care talent but stakeholders also need to work together to increase the attractiveness of these careers.
  • Technology can help with numerous examples show how technology can support inclusiveness while serving a broad range of populations.
  • Stakeholders should prioritise data governance and data sharing so that providers can exchange vital information such as risk factors or family health history and support social care workers with technology tools.11

Trend 5: A sustainable future

The link between climate change and significant health risks is irrefutable. The estimated annual global financial impact of health-related issues caused by poor air quality is US$8.1 trillion (7.7 per cent of global GDP). While there is momentum underway to counter many of these effects, climate change is exacerbating health inequities and increasing excess morality, with disproportionate effects on low-income areas. Health care providers should work with policymakers to develop climate-resilient health care infrastructure and collaborate with community organisations to address the social determinants of health that are exacerbated by climate change.12

Report takeaways:

  • The healthcare sector needs to building resilience into their operations, including switching to renewable power, zero-emission vehicles and green-heat solutions, improving visibility of supply chains, reducing waste, substituting high-emission products with more climate friendly alternatives, and incentivising the production of climate-smart medication.
  • There is a need for a robust and consistent way of measuring environmental impact and learning from peers on how to minimise impact and build more sustainable healthcare systems.
  • A commitment to information sharing can influence health outcomes for populations disproportionately affected by social determinants of health.13

Conclusion

The global health care sector is undergoing a period of unprecedented transformation, driven by technological advancements, demographic shifts, and evolving patient needs. In 2024, several key trends are poised to shape the future of health care delivery. How sector leaders and stakeholders respond and prepare themselves for this profound change. This response will also be pivotal in determining how quickly the Deloitte FoH vison for 2040 will be realised?

 

Karen pic

Karen Taylor - Director, UK Centre for Health Solutions

Karen is the Research Director of the Centre for Health Solutions. She supports the Healthcare and Life Sciences practice by driving independent and objective business research and analysis into key industry challenges and associated solutions; generating evidence based insights and points of view on issues from pharmaceuticals and technology innovation to healthcare management and reform.

Email | LinkedIn

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  1. Healthcare in Europe | Deloitte Insights
  2. global-transforming-health-care-with-artificial-intelligence.pdf (deloitte.com)
  3. Ibid.
  4. us-ai-institute-gen-ai-industry-cut-LSHC.pdf (deloitte.com)
  5. Addressing cost and affordability (deloitte.com)
  6. Ibid.
  7. The global health workforce stock and distribution in 2020 and 2030: a threat to equity and ‘universal’ health coverage? (bmj.com)
  8. *Responding to the looming global shortfall in health care workers (deloitte.com)
  9. Ibid.
  10. The role of social care (deloitte.com)
  11. Ibid.
  12. A sustainable future (deloitte.com)
  13. Ibid.

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