Global healthcare consulting revenues passed US$10bn (US$10.9bn) in 2018, with the market growing 9.1% as healthcare companies pursued a global agenda of growth, efficiency, patient-centricity, and digitization. This excellent growth rate outpaced even 2017’s strong 8% growth.
The enormous US market—which generated over 70% of global healthcare consulting revenues in 2018 (US$7.7bn)—grew faster than it did the year before as clients became more accustomed to the underlying uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and proceeded with other growth and efficiency initiatives.
These figures are published today in a new report, The Healthcare Consulting Market in 2019, from Source Global Research, the leading research and strategy firm for the global professional services industry. The Source report also found that eight of the top 10 global markets by size grew faster in 2018 than they did the year before. China—the second largest market for healthcare consulting—delivered another blockbuster year, with a 27.3% growth rate that made it the fastest-growing segment of China’s booming consulting market.
Slower growth was recorded in the UK’s healthcare sector, with revenues growing by around 6% in 2018, following a sharp decline the previous year. The Source report says that while NHS budgets remained tight, consultants enjoyed strong opportunities around digitization as well as strategy work aimed at streamlining primary care services, especially in England.
From a consulting service line standpoint, technology consultants enjoyed the best market growth (11.6%) and highest revenues (US$3.3bn) in 2018, thanks to an enthusiasm for digitization that has spread even to clients who have traditionally been slow to adopt new technology. Operational improvement saw the second highest growth (9.9% to US$2.5bn) as clients face nearly universal pressure to provide more care with less money.
B.J. Richards, Senior Editor at Source Global Research, said:
Greater patient-centricity is a major theme driving consulting work around the world. A push to improve patient experience is generating strong demand for digital solutions similar to those delivered in retail.
Healthcare clients are also looking to use technology to improve the customer/patient-facing side of operations, with automated portals for managing appointments, referrals, test results, and advice presenting opportunities to improve service while also cutting costs. Consultants report demand that ranges from vendor selection assistance to end-to-end customer service solution delivery.”
Richard Williams, Managing Director – Global Healthcare Practice Leader at Protiviti, who was interviewed for the Source report, added:
The entire industry is facing a digitally transformed future. They know they need digital tools to facilitate new ways of serving patients while also streamlining costs, labor, and processes and delivering improved margins over time.”
The Source report also points out that needs vary greatly depending on a clients’ level of digital sophistication. While newcomers want help transitioning from analogue systems to digital ways of working, early adopters are moving on to sophisticated RPA and data & analytics solutions. As in other sectors, demand for pure digital strategy is on the decline, and consultants who offer a pragmatic business case and end-to-end delivery are faring best.
B.J. Richards from Source added:
Given the high demand for end-to-end delivery and a wide range of digital solutions, consulting firms that have cultivated a robust ecosystem are enjoying an advantage in the healthcare market. Ecosystems can also help firms access smaller markets, where local language skills and market-specific healthcare sector knowledge can be hard to come by.”
Source expects healthcare consultants to enjoy a very strong market over the next few years – projecting that 2019’s consulting revenue growth will surpass 2018’s, growing by 10%, and anticipate even stronger 12% growth in 2020.
On consulting demand in 2019, Ed Giniat, Partner, National Sector Leader for Healthcare & Life Sciences at KPMG, said:
The first three quarters of 2019 have been nothing short of remarkable. I think we’re in a cycle of modernization; the client base is really demanding solutions that integrate strategy and operations to drive tactical results.”