Asia is home to roughly 60 per cent of the world’s population and already accounts for a larger share of global output than either the United States or Europe. Powered by higher growth rates, the region’s share of global GDP is expected to eclipse the entire rest of the world by 2020, according to the Financial Times.
But economic progress inevitably brings new problems in its wake. As people live longer, more prosperous lives, for example, they require more—and more expensive—healthcare. Non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease are predicted to skyrocket. Meanwhile, the elderly—who require the most care—will become the fastest-growing population segment. Consulting firm Solidiance sees factors like these driving a 76-per-cent jump in healthcare costs in the ASEAN 6 (Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia) between 2018 and 2025.
The development of a sustainable healthcare system is now a matter of urgency for the region. While governments are seeking new sources of healthcare funding, healthcare providers are working on cutting costs, improving efficiency and focusing on preventive medicine in an effort to deliver more cost-effective outcomes.
As the majority shareholder in IHH Healthcare—Asia’s largest hospital operator by market value with 15,000 beds in 80 hospitals across 10 countries—Mitsui & Co. is in a strong position to tackle the Asian healthcare challenge. And it is looking to innovation to deliver the high-quality, cost-efficient solutions that the region needs. Leading this push is IHH’s Innovation Office, a new division set up in 2016 and headed by staff seconded from Mitsui. The division is charged with sparking growth by driving innovation across three areas: new technology adoption; investment in healthcare startups; and fostering an innovation culture within IHH.