In 2021, the healthcare industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25% of the 20 fastest-growing industries from 2019 to 2029 are in the healthcare space. This is big news both from an employment perspective as well as from an investment perspective.
Healthcare is a wide-ranging field that includes numerous niches within the larger industry. By analyzing recent trends as well as projecting certain trends in the near future, it isn’t hard to predict that some sectors of the healthcare industry should experience or are already in the midst of experiencing a boom in the 2020s.
Things can change rapidly in the healthcare world and unexpected events can always pop up and change things (see COVID-19) but, no matter what happens, the five fields below should continue experiencing tremendous growth as we move through the decade and beyond. Here are the fastest-growing fields in healthcare.
One of the largest generations in U.S. history, the Baby Boomers are reaching old age. This population group, born in the years following World War II (1946-64) is getting to a collective age range where they will need more medical care. By the end of the decade, the entire generation – estimated at north of 70 million people – will be 65 and older.
The country’s healthcare system is already facing a nursing and nurse practitioner shortage and that gap projects to become bigger in the coming years. Experts estimate that the industry will have to add approximately 300,000 jobs in the coming decade to keep up with demand. When you add the fact that, in 2018, the average age of an RN was 50, it is easy to see why nurses are projected to be the most in-demand job in any industry in the 2020s.
Another healthcare field that is related to the Baby Boomer generation moving into retirement age is the need for home healthcare services and products. The simple fact is that people over 65 need more home healthcare and, in 2021, people are living longer than ever. These two factors mean that companies that provide home healthcare services or products related to home healthcare should see an incredible amount of growth in the coming years.
The cost of home healthcare is another factor in the field’s growth. It can be much more affordable these days to use a home healthcare service rather than an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Many private insurance companies and Medicare also do not cover long-term care options like these, making at-home healthcare a more cost-effective option.
Software as a Medical Device
The medical device industry is currently a $400 billion-plus industry that has had a 4.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2015 and 2019. These numbers are expected to continue to rise dramatically in the foreseeable future. Experts predict that the industry’s CARG will rise to over 6% in the next few years, growing the industry to over $600 billion by 2023.
Software as a medical device (SaMD) is one of the major drivers of the growth in this sector. As Orthogonal notes here, software as a medical device has experienced significant growth in recent years. Providing medical benefits and operating independently of another medical device, SaMD is a game-changer in the world of healthcare.
SaMD offers several benefits to both patients and healthcare providers, which is why it’s being rapidly adopted in the industry. For providers, SaMD makes healthcare more portable, efficient, and cheaper. It also provides medical professionals with real-time data to help improve patient outcomes. Patients reap more control over their own healthcare and treatment, which also leads to better outcomes.
The world of virtual doctor visits via telehealth has been growing for years but before 2020 was still a relatively small niche in the greater healthcare landscape. The global COVID-19 pandemic changed that dramatically and now, telehealth is set to become one of the fastest-growing fields in all of healthcare. Some experts are predicting the field may have a CAGR of more than 38% in the next five years.
The pandemic made visits to medical facilities unsafe for patients and too much for many overwhelmed facilities to handle. Telehealth came in and made a huge impact. As the pandemic runs its course and life gets back to some semblance of normalcy, some pandemic-driven sectors will fade but others, like telemedicine, will continue to grow.
What the healthcare industry realized is that even in normal times, there are a lot of benefits that come from telemedicine. It is more convenient and affordable for many patients and allows them to engage more deeply in their treatment. It is also more efficient and cost-effective for doctors, as they can see more patients with lower overhead cost.
When you think of the fastest-growing fields in the healthcare industry, dental services may not be one of the top sectors that comes to mind. However, this entire field – which includes dentists, orthodontists, dental care product sales, and dental laboratory services – is growing at a very fast rate. Experts predict that the field will grow at a CAGR of 10% in the next four years.
In 2021, people simply have more need, are taking better care, and are spending more money on dental care. A combination of factors contribute to this trend, including greater knowledge of the link between dental health and overall health and more people investing in dental work for cosmetic reasons as well. And, to circle back to the Baby Boomers, as people age their need for dental care increases.
There is no question that the healthcare industry will continue to grow throughout the next decade. Certain fields are worth watching more closely than others, especially if you are looking for future employment or thinking about investing financially. For these purposes, nursing, home healthcare, SaMD, telehealth, and the dental field should all be monitored closely.