Around the world, access to quality affordable healthcare is being threatened by rising costs and the current economic downturn.
As Ali Parsa, the CEO of U.K.’s Babylon Health told shareholders during a Q3 earnings call on Thursday (Nov. 10), “the significant increase […] in the cost of capital will inevitably result in the unfortunate weakening or disappearance of some of the innovative solutions needed to tackle the current challenges facing the healthcare sector.”
He added that many smaller healthcare innovators have already been forced under or acquired by larger firms as they struggle to stay afloat. Even for Babylon, now a publicly listed company serving millions of patients, those same macroeconomic pressures apply.
Yet against a difficult backdrop, the London-based firm nonetheless reported Q3 revenue of $288.9 million, representing a 288% increase compared to the same period last year.
In light of the latest earnings, Parsa said the company, founded in 2013, is on track to meet its target of reaching profitability by 2025.
Since its launch, the healthcare startup has touted the universal appeal of digital health and accelerated its global expansion to 15 countries, including to the U.S., where it launched via a $4.2 billion SPAC merger last year.
As the company said in a press release on Wednesday (Nov. 9), “in environments as diverse as the developed U.K. or developing Rwanda, urban New York or rural Missouri, for people of all ages, it is possible to achieve our mission by leveraging our highly scalable, digital-first platform.”
The Potential of eHealth in Emerging Markets
From insurance to diagnostics to treatment, digital solutions are helping to break down the barriers to healthcare access in emerging markets.
For example, Ted Pantone, founder and CEO of insurance technology firm Turaco, told PYMNTS that while traditional insurance companies tend to focus on the top 5% to 10% of earners, digital solutions have the potential to reach millions of Africans who have been underserved by the legacy model.
Telemedicine operators like Babylon have an important role to play too. In the U.S., the 2.7x year-on-year membership growth the company reported in Q3 has been fueled by a mix of Medicare, Medicaid and commercial patients, demonstrating that digital healthcare has a broad appeal across divergent income and age groups.
But affordability is not the only barrier to accessing healthcare. As Parsa pointed out, in some medical specialties the burnout rate is as high as 60%, with frightening implications for patients’ ability to access medical professionals practicing in less common fields.
Once again, digital technologies have the potential to close some of the staffing gaps faced by healthcare providers by connecting patients to experts remotely.
As PYMNTS has reported, a generation of MedTech startups in areas such as teleradiology and artificial intelligence (AI) diagnostics are helping to ease the work of specialists as they ditch the physical limitations of the hospital setting to embrace tech-enabled solutions.
As Parsa said, “the existing hospital-centric model will not be able to provide a credible solution to the current long-term challenges.” Instead, alternative delivery models are needed to meet the global demand for healthcare at a time when both individual spending power and public health budgets are under significant pressure.
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