Jon Benjamin
Ambassador
Embassy of the United Kingdom in Mexico
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Expert Contributor

Healthtech: The Path to Global Healthcare Resilience

By Jon Benjamin | Tue, 10/19/2021 - 09:12

As an Ambassador, I have engaged with and worked on many different topics and sectors throughout my professional career. Health and healthcare have become very familiar terms along the way, and over the past months have also become synonymous with innovation and technology. With these words even merging into one, they have created a completely new area of opportunities. This is the case of healthtech.

The first time I encountered the word healthtech, my mind went straight to the world of sci-fi movies, with robotic doctors and machines rebuilding extremities lost in unfortunate and wildly fantastic circumstances. Today, the World Health Organization defines healthtech as something much more real: “the application of organized knowledge and skills in the form of devices, procedures, systems, medicines and vaccines developed to solve a health problem and improve quality of lives,” which, in lay terms that I understand better, is the fusion of medicine and technology for the advancement of healthcare.

This ample definition allows for a wide set of products, services and solutions to fit under the term healthtech, ranging from over-the-counter medications, to genomics and genetic therapy. Thus, innovation has a huge and crucial role in ensuring the healthcare and life sciences sectors develop according to the needs of clinical outcomes and patient experience, all while responding to the budget constraints of health systems as experienced in most countries across the world.

Many of us may think that healthtech is a novel and disruptive term, but looking closely at its meaning and history, we find that it has actually been around for over 200 years now, since the creation of the stethoscope in 1816. Coming in a few decades later, the first use of X-rays happened back in 1895, showing that innovation is a key part of the story of healthtech evolution.

Moving into more modern times, the three areas expected to have the biggest global impact in terms of new technology are artificial intelligence, the internet of things (IoT) and mobile health (mHealth), with an estimated value of US$36.1 billion, US$543.3 billion and US$111.8 billion for 2025 respectively. Healthtech plays a key role across all of these areas. (1)

Therefore, healthtech is not just a term for hospitals and laboratories. It effectively spans the full spectrum of well-being, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and maintenance. It has become a key pillar in the future of healthcare but also applies to everyday gadgets and apps we use at home, such as: pregnancy tests, a wristwatch that monitors the heart rate, apps that help guide meditation and mindfulness, or web portals that help us book a doctor’s appointment online.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all major sectors worldwide, but healthcare technology has seen a positive boost, primarily due to the global surge in demand for remote healthcare solutions. This makes healthtech a crucial sector for not only each of us at an individual level, but also the recovery of the global economy, It’s a sector each of us should care about.

Throughout history, the UK has consistently been a world-leader in technology and innovation, transforming many industries along the way. Today, UK companies are focusing on some of the biggest challenges the world is facing, such as climate change, energy transition, transport and health. Within this last sector, we can see the influence and importance of healthtech, which represents 40 percent of total employment in the Life Sciences industry in the UK. The healthtech sector contributes £25.6 billion (US$35 billion) to the UK’s annual life sciences sector turnover of over £70 billion (US$95.5 billion). (2, 3, 4)

The UK is the third-largest medtech market in the world, with an investment record worth over £2.3 billion (US$3.1 billion) in 2020, 63 percent of it coming from overseas. This is a fast-evolving market, where innovation plays a key role in catching up with the world’s needs and expectations for the future of healthcare. It has been estimated that the healthtech global market value will reach £431.83 billion (US$656.6 billion) by 2025. (3, 5)

Healthtech has been growing exponentially and will continue to do so over the coming years. For most, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the many needs and opportunities the healthcare sector has where technological advances can really change the world. As we begin to manage, and live alongside, the pandemic, it is clear that healthtech is a crucial tool for global resilience, and one that matters to us all. If you want to find out more about how the UK’s capabilities and expertise in healthtech can work with you, get in touch with our team via dit.mexico@fco.gov.uk and we’ll be delighted to engage in a conversation.

 

References:

  1. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualizing-healthtech-revolution/
  2. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1015316/Bioscience_and_Health_Technology_Statistics_2019_v2.pdf
  3. https://www.ahsnnetwork.com/app/uploads/2019/02/02585-HealthTech-Report-LOWER-RES.pdf
  4. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-life-sciences-sector-brings-record-growth-as-new-life-sciences-council-meets-for-first-time
  5. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1092869/global-digital-health-market-size-forecast/#:~:text=In%202019%2C%20the%20global%20digital,660%20billion%20dollars%20by%202025.
Photo by:   John Benjamin