Everyone knows that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the game’s rules. It has enormously impacted the situation in most markets, forcing adaptation to the new reality.
The coronavirus pandemic has attacked the area of our healthcare. It has presented us with challenges: limited mobility, better control of information, an almost global sense of fear and uncertainty, and the risk of healthcare inefficiencies. Exceptional circumstances put us in a situation where we had to adapt to the new reality.
What post-covid trends can be highlighted, what raises the highest hopes and attracts investors, and what do companies operating in this market want to bet on? I based this blog post on analyses of the most respected institutions and our experience implementing projects for Poland’s top healthcare companies. By the end, you’ll realize these trends and the new direction the pandemic has determined.
What challenges did COVID bring to the HealthTech industry?
Two main areas have been affected by COVID, which has been the driving force behind the changes we have observed in the market for the past two years. Adequately illustrating these areas will be a good starting point for further consideration. We first must realize the scale of a truly unprecedented phenomenon.
Restricted mobility during the pandemic
Suddenly, practically overnight, we faced a lack of access to essential services and products. Above all, businesses that lost the ability to sell their services or products directly were put in front of such a situation. Some data to better illustrate the whole problem:
- Polish coronavirus cases began on March 4, 2020. Hospitalizations peaked at 34.8 thousand on April 7, 2021. We worked and learned remotely due to store and movement constraints.
- As reported by the Ministry of Health in Poland, in January 2022, one million people were quarantined and couldn’t leave their houses.
- Research shows that in September 2020, more than half of Poles said the COVID-19 epidemic should be treated seriously, and everyone should wear masks and keep a social distance. Almost one in two respondents was already tired of the pandemic.
- During the pandemic, product categories such as over-the-counter drugs(108%), groceries (103%), and supplements (68%) recorded the most extensive sales increases.
This limited mobility and, thus, the need to adapt to the new reality was the main factor pushing companies towards increased digitization as a necessary step, often to stay in the market.
Deterioration in mental and physical health during the pandemic
This area has the most long-term effects, which we are already feeling and will feel for many years. COVID and the impact it has caused have affected the psycho-physical situation of Poles to a tremendous degree, mostly negatively. And this is another area from which the current trend in the market was born and within which the popularity of many market solutions is growing. Even more of them are being created to solve the problems that result from it. Again, here is some data so we can understand the phenomenon’s scale:
- One in three Poles knew someone who lost their job because of COVID-19 in 2020.
- Nearly half of Poles are financially hurt by the outbreak. 37% of respondents said the virus damages their mental health.
- In 2022, nearly four in ten Poles felt that their mental health deteriorated during the pandemic.
- Poles reported many somatic symptoms during the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020 and 2021. Sleep issues (falling asleep, waking up, or staying asleep) and general lethargy, exhaustion, and lack of energy were the most common.
- More than 20% of Poles felt negative emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, with nearly one in three respondents feeling anxious. More than a quarter of Poles felt depressed, sad, and worried about their health.
- People used and bought more medicines in 2020 due to COVID-19 in Poland. More than 40 percent of people purchased or used more substances with vitamin C. Painkillers, magnesium preparations, and vitamin D3 were also popular medical substances.
- Video conferencing caused zoom fatigue. Without socializing, people become more socially burdened than before the pandemic.
Trends that have emerged in the market because of COVID
Where there are real challenges, there is usually action to counter those threats. The areas we have defined resulted in the appearance of specific trends in the market, which arise from these areas and which try to solve the problems arising from them. We took the liberty of defining three main trends dominating the market and showing, based on specific solutions and implementations, what companies are betting on and how their solutions are trying to meet the current situation.
Accessibility in the healthcare industry
Both market leaders and freshly emerging startups have had to adapt to the new conditions and make their solutions easier and sometimes even simply accessible, which was not so evident before the pandemic. The primary trend, therefore, is all actions and investments aimed at making the services offered more accessible to customers. Also, those that were only widely available on the market after covid. Some examples:
The PZU Group
The largest insurer in our region is betting heavily on digital solutions. They not only facilitate contact with customers but also optimize business processes. And the market appreciates these changes.
The PZU Group has 100 million PLNs a year for digitization. Their strategy for 2021-2024 assumes its use in all areas of business. They have become a leader in accelerated financial sector change. The dynamic development of insurance e-services in the mojePZU portal confirms that. More than 2 million customers already use it.
A healthcare company providing medical services asked us to build a digital product – a web application that allows platform users to purchase medical tests easily. Its goal is to provide comprehensive customer service and a simple order fulfillment system for administrators and laboratories.
One of the biggest challenges was handling the scoring schedule based on lab capabilities and test types. The MVP version of the application consists of several modules for tasks such as checking the store’s offerings, making test purchases, checking the history of one’s results, reading articles about tests, monitoring customers and their orders, managing laboratories and tests (products in the store), managing the capacity of the facility, working collection points, defining tests performed by a given laboratory, handling ordered tests (changing status, entering results).
The development of telemedicine services accelerated significantly during the pandemic. It was forced, among other things, by the “shutdown of the economy” in March.
Based on the data, more than 50 percent of simple patient problems can be solved by telemedicine. Waiting in line for a prescription or referral is no longer necessary. As of January 8, 2021, medical facilities must issue and handle electronic referrals.
Mental and physical conditions in healthcare
This is an evident trend in the market. Covid has caused “good,” if you can call it that, meaning an increase in self-awareness regarding one’s physical and mental state. I’ve mentioned this before in outlining this area with data, but it’s worth backing up the phenomenon with concrete impact data.
Globally, 1,249M fitness apps were downloaded in Q1 and Q2 of 2020, compared to 934M in the same year – an increase of about 34%. One of our clients is a start-up that uses the latest technology and changes the rules of the game in promoting healthy lifestyle changes in children. They wanted to build a functional app for children and came to us with their brilliant idea! Their goal was to encourage children to be more active and take more daily steps through a mobile app. It can be used individually by a child and by groups of children (such as schools) to compete against each other to be more active every day. The client wanted to present training videos on the web app to motivate the children.
There’s also a Mindgram, the first online platform in Poland to provide care from specialists – psychologists and specialists in preventive health and personal development, targeting corporate employees and their loved ones. Since its inception in 2021, the company has covered more than 51,000 employees. The number of Mindgram customers has also increased fivefold in the past year. The startup has raised €7 million in funding from international investors. There is an emphasis on mental and physical health as never before, which shows us the changes in HealthTech.
Technological solutions in the HealthTech industry
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming increasingly popular in technology solutions. There’s also interest in using blockchain technology and virtual reality/augmented reality. According to a global survey conducted in January 2020, 71% of young healthcare professionals agreed that using AI in healthcare will give them the tools they need to keep patients healthy. The same percentage of respondents also said AI could help them make more accurate diagnoses, while slightly less than two-thirds said AI would allow them to spend more time with patients.
Moreover, the market for virtual and augmented reality in healthcare is expected to reach $2.4 billion by 2026, according to Allied Market Research, as use expands into pain management, memory care, and medical training, among other areas.
Blockchain allows information to be collected from multiple sources – IoT devices, smartphone apps, patient portals – and sent to healthcare providers, who can monitor the quality of care on a longitudinal basis. Providers will know what interventions are needed, while patients will gain greater control over their data.
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Perspectives and risks in the HealthTech market for 2023
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the HealthTech industry. The sudden and widespread outbreak put immense pressure on healthcare systems worldwide, and many were forced to adopt new technologies to continue providing care to patients quickly. This led to an increase in the use of telemedicine, remote monitoring, and other HealthTech solutions, as well as a greater focus on developing technologies to help fight the virus, such as rapid diagnostic tests and vaccines. The pandemic also highlighted the importance of digital health solutions and the role they can play in improving the accessibility and efficiency of healthcare.