Sponsored column: Demographic challenge sees opportunities in healthcare

Andrew Wilson, Senior Investment Director and Head of Brooks Macdonald's York office
Andrew Wilson, Senior Investment Director and Head of Brooks Macdonald's York office
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By Andrew Wilson, Senior Investment Director and Head of Brooks Macdonald’s York office.

Demographic challenge is creating opportunities in healthcare.

Healthcare is big business, with current global expenditure accounting for 10 per cent of GDP (17.1 per cent in the US, but only 5.6 per cent in China). With populations ageing and access to healthcare improving this percentage is only likely to rise.

As countries get richer other trends also come into play, for example, changes in diets can result in higher levels of diabetes (some 415 million people already suffer from diabetes globally and this is projected to rise to 642 million by 2040).

Technology will play a bigger role in healthcare in the future, with advances dramatically reducing the cost and amount of time it takes to carry out certain procedures. Real time, remote patient monitoring and diagnostics can help doctors make their rounds more quickly and with greater efficiency. Anyone who has tried to get an urgent appointment with their GP can undoubtedly see the attraction of being able to speak with a doctor remotely via video. Other developments include

prosthetic body parts being produced quickly and easily with 3D printers and the use of virtual reality headsets to help train the surgeons of the future.

We are also seeing some significant breakthroughs in the field of artificial intelligence. Scientists are now able to map how our brains process information and this will eventually allow doctors to make faster, more accurate diagnoses.

Artificial intelligence can help researchers understand how genetic variations lead to disease and this understanding could one day lead to the development of personalised treatments and medicines.

Ultimately, the healthcare industry is going through structural changes. Governments and health services in the developed world are already under severe pressure as the cost of treating ageing populations rises year by year. As such, we expect healthcare companies that allow providers to cut costs through the likes of robotics, software and outsourcing to become extremely valuable in the coming years.