On the 22nd July, in the last days of the May government in theUK, a green discussion paper was released on preventative healthcare. The report highlights the long term risk to health budgets if the emerging (& in some cases already emerged) life style risk factors (smoking, obesity, diabetes etc.) are not addressed
The report flags some of the recent successes, including the reduction in smoking (its now down to fewer than 1 in 6 of the adult population)
But, it also highlights some of the risk factors we are yet to find solutions to – of which the biggest is obesity (especially in children)
The report goes on to discuss the increasingly important role that technology will play in helping to solve these problems, obviously not on their own but as part of a wider shift in healthcare priorities
The article also highlights that only 5% of UK NHS spending (which is the bulk of the governments healthcare budget) goes on preventative medicine.
Analysis and Comments
This report and the related article picks up two very important issues in healthcare – that we think will have material impacts for investors.
Much of what we see in the industry around innovation is about better ways of doing the same thing (better heart valves, improved drugs etc). This is in of itself a good thing, but its not enough if innovation is really to make a difference to long term health outcomes
This article also picks up on the second important issue, institutional change. Across Europe much of our healthcare industry is driven by government spending & priorities. In such an environment, switching to preventative healthcare is tough as it does not really contribute to achieving short (or in some cases even medium) term goals.
The article picks out a number of areas where current technology, properly applied, could make a difference to longer term health outcomes. Inaddition, just yesterday, there were reports out can Google predict kidney disease, that suggest AI could be used to help identify those hospital patients that are at a high risk of developing kidney related complications. The current trial at the Royal London Free Hospital, seems to have gone well kidney app a life saver.
These technological advancements to really gain traction need a shift in emphasis among politicians, who set government healthcare priorities. When that happens we could see an explosion in opportunity for European healthcare companies.