We started this year with a look at the trends our industry consolidated in 2012 and those we are expecting to see evolving in 2013. This week, we would like to show you that our trend prediction for 2013 is already unfolding. In particular, we would like to discuss how the current demand for personalised health solutions among customers is creating additional business opportunities for the spa and wellness industries.
In order to better understand this, we will bring into this discussion some of the insights provided by an article recently published in The Guardian regarding the current fragmentation of the healthcare system in the UK and the expansion of the private sector into the National Health Service (NHS). Furthermore, we will cover some of the common ground that exists between the current demand for personalised health solutions and the crisis of national healthcare systems, our industry’s desire to build synergies with the health industry, and the value of innovation.
An Open Field for Fragmentation
In previous posts, we have discussed the current crisis affecting healthcare systems around the world. We are now facing a breaking point where the financial burden of coping with chronic diseases is getting out of hand. This situation has been worsened by the lack of effective business models among healthcare providers and the high price paid by systems based on reactive services towards health.
It is from this scenario that the fragmentation of services within the health field has gained room. In fact, this trend has been just embraced in the UK with the introduction of the ‘Any Qualified Provider’ (AQP) status, which allows more than 100 private firms to “provide basic NHS services including physiotherapy, dermatology, hearing aids, MRI scanning and psychological therapy.“
This significant structural change has been praised and criticised by different actors. For obvious reasons, traditional healthcare providers have seen this move as a threat to the NHS. Dr. Clare Gerada, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has stated that the newly introduced AQP status will atomise the NHS. According to Gerada, AQP “is also atomizing the patient into individual parts, which is wrong and unhelpful, and forcing them to interact with multiple different services rather than just their local NHS.”
Another issue that has created debate about the new regulations surrounding the NHS refers to the fact that an AQP-based model could place profitability as the ultimate goal to achieve by healthcare providers. In regards to this, The Royal College of Physicians is “concerned that the extension of any qualified provider could destabilise existing services and damage integrated care pathways.”
Giving More Choice to The Customer
In spite of all this criticism, the new changes have been praised by a large and diverse group of advocates who have constantly stressed the potential benefits that this fragmentation can provide to customers. Earl Howe, the Health Minister, has stated that the new reforms are aimed at “offering patients more choice, control and driving up the quality of their care.”
Similarly, the leading health and social provider Care UK has defended the new regulations arguing that AQP “will give scope for other organisations to provide services and should increase competition on the basis of patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes.”
We believe this rationale is the one that will allow us to be part of this imminent healthcare revolution. By building synergies with the health field and providing a set of services based on prevention and innovation, spas and wellness centres can seize a business opportunity that could easily define our industry for years to come.
Likewise, we believe 2013 offers the potential to be the year where the medical field will finally reach out to the spa and wellness sectors. Not only because it makes business sense but also because it gives the consumer what they are already looking for: More choice and personalized solutions to their health care problems. We will see how it goes.