Awakening of the Healthcare Consumer
Since the beginning of the Information Age, there has been discussion around the importance, emergence, and empowerment of the health care consumer. This has been enabled and driven by rapid acceleration of technology, and scientific and medical advances. Technological advances have created the ability to access, share and store information as well as monitor personal biostatistics about nutrition, activity, ailments, and illnesses through the internet. Scientific and medical innovation has pushed personalized medicine from the future of medical care into a daily reality. These factors have allowed ordinary people to be more proactive, informed and engaged in decisions about their own health. Armed with information, today’s health care consumer is part patient and part medical practitioner; in a sense, the consumer now wears the stethoscope and white coat. While these trends have been in motion for a generation, the present pandemic has accelerated and assured their permanence. Whether turning on the TV or scrolling through social media, people are bombarded by COVID-19 updates everywhere they turn.
In this 24/7 news cycle, health care brands, from biopharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences to clinical laboratories Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, have transformed into household names. People are asking more critical questions about their exposure to COVID-19 and are willing to adopt a preventative approach, taking supplements such as probiotics and vitamins to improve their health. With non-essential businesses shuttered, the pharmacy has become an essential resource second only to the grocery store. These are just a few examples of how the pandemic has brought products and services that support healthy living to the forefront of consumers’ minds.
While people suffering from chronic illnesses that require lifestyle changes and disease management products such as diabetes, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or asthma, have long been more diligent consumers of health care, the global pandemic has motivated otherwise healthy people to become more informed and engaged in their health than ever before. With the World Health Organization, epidemiologists, and local governments pressing the public to improve their health and wellness routines in the fight against COVID-19, a wider range of the populace is now engaged in their health. Essentially, COVID-19 has acted as a uniting force, causing consumers to share information about symptoms, ways to improve their health, and tips to keep the virus at bay.
In short, more consumers are taking their health into their own hands—and engaging digitally with like-minded peers—to improve their holistic well-being. This consumer’s greater engagement in health care is likely to become engrained for the long-term.
Several significant trends in health care consumer behavior have been solidified and accelerated by COVID-19, ensuring they remain relevant long after the pandemic fades—and generating highly attractive and timely opportunities for private equity investors. The following trends, based on consumers increasingly taking charge of their own health care, will generate tremendous value creation opportunities over the next several years and beyond.
Many of the above trends were already in motion, but companies were shifting at a measured pace alongside the market in general. The solidification of these trends and the consolidators looking to accelerate strategies through acquisition will highlight the demand for scarce and novel platforms that are effectively filling their sails with these now enhanced tailwinds. Many established private and private equity owned businesses have the potential to adapt their current business models to benefit from the push into patient-centric, engaged-consumer models. The current pandemic is permanently increasing consumers’ engagement in their own health, creating sustainable opportunities for investment in health products and service brands that capitalize on these increasingly indelible trends.
Lincoln International's Healthcare Group looks into long-standing trends in healthcare consumerism, and the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on opportunities for private equity investors in patient-centric, engaged-consumer models.
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