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2024 Global Health Care Sector Outlook

Navigating transformation

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 can sector leaders and stakeholders prepare themselves for this profound change?

Lingering COVID-19 effects are still contributing to widespread labor shortages and escalating costs, while the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) presents possible solutions. Predicted to play a pivotal role in streamlining health care processes, AI promises precision and efficiency from administration, to operations, to supply chain and to patient care. Sustainability takes center stage as health care organizations adopt eco-friendly practices, addressing both environmental concerns and cost savings. Remote technologies are reshaping care delivery, extending beyond medical services to holistic social care, recognizing the link between social determinants and well-being. In response to rising costs, stakeholders implement innovative strategies, from value-based care models to workforce adaptations, defining the sector's future at this critical juncture.

In our 2024 Global Health Care Sector Outlook, we examine how the future of global health care is likely to be shaped by these trends, driving innovation, sustainability, social care integration, cost management, and workforce adaptation.

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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care systems worldwide are embracing emerging technologies to address ongoing challenges, including cost reduction, improved access to care, and a shortage of skilled workers. AI and other technologies offer the potential to personalize patient interactions, streamline administrative and care processes, and free up clinicians to focus on complex procedures. Sustained investments in technology are crucial to fully harness its potential and transform health care delivery.

Key takeaways:

  • Health care providers are partnering with tech companies to develop AI tools that can better predict clinical outcomes, enhance radiological imaging, and optimize sleep monitoring.
  • AI has the potential to transform health care by optimizing both administrative functions and care delivery. It will have financial and non-financial benefits, such as improved care quality, enhanced patient experience, and greater clinician satisfaction. Private providers may gain the greatest benefits from optimization in care, claims, and provider relationship management.
  • Predictive AI could forecast patient volumes and help hospitals adjust staffing and resources by predicting future resource needs, analyzing detailed data, and identifying high-impact patterns and trends.
  • AI is rapidly becoming a competitive necessity in the health care sector. Yet many organizations are still understanding what AI can mean for them. Deloitte created the AI Dossier to give leaders in different industries summaries of key issues and opportunities, and how AI can help achieve them.

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Rising health care costs pose a challenge to quality, access, and affordability worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic intensified staffing shortages, inflation, and demand backlogs, driving up costs further. Technology-enabled models offer potential solutions for delivering more efficient and cost-effective care. To address the rising cost of health care and improve accessibility and affordability, countries should explore innovative solutions that leverage technology to enhance care delivery models. This includes utilizing telehealth, remote monitoring, and artificial intelligence to optimize resource allocation, streamline processes, and personalize patient care.

Key takeaways:

  • While workforce expenses are a major driver of rising health costs, other factors also contribute. The cost of maintaining care facilities is one factor.
  • Health care organizations globally are beginning to implement innovative technologies such as virtual wards and AI-enabled diagnostic tools to reduce costs of age-related care. Providers also are investing in technology to accelerate diagnoses and reduce treatment costs for chronic diseases.
  • Medical tourism has become increasingly popular among businesses and insurance providers as a means of bringing down health care costs. This is particularly true of patients in the US.
  • The current cost environment requires new strategies to transform the organization. Traditional cost-cutting may no longer be enough. Instead, health care organizations should transform themselves by building new capabilities, relationships, and competencies.

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The global health care sector faces a severe shortage of workers, with projections indicating a shortfall of 10 million by 2030. This shortage is driven by various factors, including burnout, limited talent pipelines, demographic changes, and migration rates. The demand for health care workers is expected to surge by 29% in the next decade, requiring transformative measures to address this critical challenge. The challenge is profound—and global but how can the industry bring a change in their care models?

Key takeaways:

  • Clinician burnout is one of the key causes of the health care sector’s labor shortages.
  • To retain and attract the clinical workforce, health care leaders have a responsibility to rebuild their trust and restore meaning, value, and purpose in their industry. Listening to frontline workers, recognizing their clinical autonomy, elevating their voice to leadership, and building an inclusive culture are some ways organizations try to achieve this.
  • In addition to building trust and paying clinicians more, technology could ease some of the biggest contributors to burnout, such as administrative tasks. AI has the potential to take over documentation burdens, handle pre-op workflows, and assist with insurance claims.
  • Providers looking to help improve their recruitment and retention may need to consider transforming their care models and redesigning jobs.

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The traditional health care model, focused on treating illnesses after they occur, is shifting towards a holistic approach that addresses social determinants of health. This integrated model incorporates social and health care services to prevent illness and promote well-being. 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 service delivery models that prioritize prevention and address the needs of underserved communities.

Key takeaways:

  • A number of countries are embarking on partnerships to build a more resilient roster of social care talent—and to increase the attractiveness of these careers.
  • Another focus for governments is ensuring that investments in the social determinants of health are equitably distributed across underserved populations.
  • Delivering social care services to underserved populations is a perennial challenge that was exacerbated during the pandemic. Technology can help. Numerous examples show how technology can support inclusiveness while serving a broad range of populations.
  • Providers that strive to prioritize social care as part of their commitment to deliver on whole health should establish sustainable frameworks for workforce recruitment and training.

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Climate change poses significant health risks, particularly in low-income areas with poor health infrastructure. The health care sector needs to adapt its practices to mitigate the impact of climate change on patient care and health care delivery. Health care organizations should implement sustainability measures to reduce their environmental impact and improve resilience to climate change. Additionally, health care providers should work with policymakers to develop climate-resilient health care infrastructure and collaborate with community organizations to address the social determinants of health that are exacerbated by climate change.

Key takeaways:

  • There are severe heat crises in regions unaccustomed to dangerously high temperatures. One of the ways hospitals are addressing acute energy insecurity and that affects the delivery of care is by building resilience into their operations.
  • Sustainability regulations vary from region to region. In the absence of a comprehensive supplier engagement program, standardization, or clear mandates, breaking down the barriers between purchasing and clinical care can be challenging.
  • Measuring environmental impact and being able to compare and learn from peers on how to minimize impact is another way the health care sector can build more sustainable systems.
  • A commitment to information sharing can also influence health outcomes for populations disproportionately affected by social determinants of health.

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