Digitization reaches healthcare sector and triggers record-setting growth
Digital Health sector is displaying record-setting growth. The coronavirus pandemic pushed digital adoption to new heights in the healthcare sector, which represents 12% of global GDP and is virgin digital territory to a great extent. The explosion of new technologies is evident in many areas including telemedicine, robotic surgery and digital blood glucose monitoring. Various expert studies1) predict that the global telemedicine market will grow five-fold from about USD 34 bn in 2018 to more than USD 185 bn in 2026 and, in the longer term, might even reach the USD 250 bn mark in the US alone. “The Digital Health sector is booming, and this is only the beginning of a very dynamic growth period,” says Stefan Blum, who manages the BB Adamant Digital Health Fund at Bellevue Asset Management together with Marcel Fritsch. The fund has grown in size to USD 1.3 bn and it has consistently topped Lipper/Refinitiv and Citywire fund performance ratings of more than 100 global healthcare funds since its launch three years ago2).
Amid population aging, an increasing incidence of lifestyle-related diseases and the associated rising demand for health services, the global healthcare system needs to become much more digital and efficient to contain costs and deliver effective basic medical care for every human being in future. The healthcare sector makes up 12% of global GDP and is a huge market. “We know how smartphones and digitization have transformed our business and private lives. Exactly the same development process is now taking place in healthcare,” Blum says. New technologies like cloud computing, connectivity and artificial intelligence are reaching new heights in healthcare and providing sorely needed efficiency gains. Automated connected systems such as continuous glucose monitoring with sensors in combination with insulin pumps that deliver insulin as needed are revolutionizing diabetes management, creating a reliable foundation for optimal patient care.
Telemedicine market set to balloon from USD 34 bn to USD 185 bn
Experts expect the global telemedicine market to top USD 185 bn by 2026. That’s up from around USD 34 bn in 2018. Annual average growth rates are now in excess of 20%. Analysts1) are attributing this growth to the increasing ubiquity of smartphones in developing countries. Virtual consultations or e-visits will become the norm in future as a time-saving and low-resource mode of interaction between doctors and patients. The implementation of digital applications in the healthcare sector will also make medical consultations faster and less complicated in the future, with the added bonus of improving clinical outcomes and diagnostic methods through the use of innovative software solutions.
Sector attracting new venture capital funds
The positive outlook is also attracting the attention of international investors, which has the effect of boosting innovation in the industry even more. “Venture capital funds have invested more than USD 60 bn in over 3000 digital health companies since 2011 – and rising: alone in the first quarter of this year, almost as much cash went into the industry as in the whole of 2019,” Fritsch says. The risk profile is attractive, too. “It’s a regulated sector. Major players like Apple and Google have to jump through the same regulatory hoops as everyone else.” It means that smaller digital health companies like those the BB Adamant Digital Health Fund invests in can compete on an equal footing.
Strong performance since launch three years ago
Bolstered by that kind of momentum, the BB Adamant Digital Health Fund managed by Stefan Blum and Marcel Fritsch has doubled in value2) since its launch three years ago. Lipper/Refinitiv and Citywire assessments in fact see the BB Adamant Digital Health Fund as the most profitable of the more than 100 actively managed funds trading in global health stocks. Consequently, the fund has a Morningstar rating of 5 stars. The two experts are now managing a portfolio worth more than USD 1.3 bn. “We focus on rapidly growing disruptive Digital Health companies. Our portfolio is very liquid and broadly diversified. From a risk perspective, too, we focus on companies that are already generating a positive cash flow or which at least have sufficient capital to finance their operations until they break even,” portfolio manager Fritsch says in explanation of their successful strategy. And he adds: “The fund is ideal for a diversified portfolio because there is barely any overlap with the larger tech, healthcare or small and mid cap universe.”
1) McKinsey & Company: Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality? By Oleg Bestsenny, Greg Gilbert, Alex Harris, and Jennifer Rost. May 2020/ Fortune Business Insights: Report Telemedicine Market, January 2021
2) Lipper/Refinitiv/Citywire: Performance period April 30, 2018 – April 30, 2021