Coline Pavot

Healthcare Access Is a Priority

“Uneven access to health services drives life expectancy gaps,” the WHO announced in 2019. From unequal vaccine access to more and more operating issues in healthcare systems due to care worker shortages, the health crisis has highlighted the increasingly uneven access to healthcare and the chain reaction this has triggered. It seems clear that the health of the world’s populations hinges on this multi-faceted issue. For several months, La Financière de l’Echiquier (LFDE) teams analysed this issue, which also happens to be a promising investment theme for impact investors like us.

What are the underlying reasons for these healthcare access problems? What solutions will release the brakes? In our research, we have attempted to answer these questions.

Issue 1: Geography

Geographic accessibility is a key aspect of healthcare access. It’s estimated that 646 million people worldwide do not have access to a health centre within an hour of home1. This is especially urgent because some diseases require close monitoring in healthcare settings. Among the solutions we identified were telemedicine and its associated technology, which are an answer to medical deserts and provide faster treatment to isolated individuals.

Issue 2: Finances

Global healthcare expenses total $8.5 trillion annually—twice as much as 20 years ago2. These costs weigh simultaneously on government healthcare and patients’ financial capacity, with a negative impact on access to care. In the United States, 33% of the adult population cannot follow recommended treatments or even keep an appointment, for financial reasons3. Faced with this challenge, companies are innovating to make healthcare more financially accessible. Take in vitro diagnostic technology, which makes up just 2-3% of global healthcare spending4 yet underpins most medical decisions, the accuracy of which can shorten treatment and hospitalization times.

Issue 3: Availability

Europe is facing a million-worker shortfall in the healthcare sector5. Caregiver scarcity is endangering patient care capacity. And availability issues are also affecting treatments. Right now, 300 million people worldwide are affected by an untreatable illness6. Companies are taking action to meet this dual challenge by developing software that saves care workers time as well as innovative biologic drugs for illnesses that are not covered, such as orphan diseases and some cancers.

Issue 4: Trust

The last issue we identified is treatment acceptance. For example, 37% of people in France don’t trust the healthcare system to supply them with the best treatment7. There are various factors that may be behind this mistrust, such as concern about healthcare quality in the wake of media scandals or the pain involved in some treatments. Improving patient confidence in care quality is another source of innovation for companies, particularly those that are developing innovative medical devices like wireless insulin pumps, which improve patient comfort and treatment uptake.

With its proprietary methodology, LFDE intends to cover these four areas, aligned with the healthcare access issues defined by the WHO. These challenges are also investment opportunities.

1 Nature Medicine, 2020
2 WHO, 2019
3 CommonWealth Fund, 2016
4 In Vitro Diagnosis Market Size, Share & Covid-19 Impact Analysis, 2021
5 European Commission
6 European Journal of Human Genetics, 2019
7 Statista, 2021