Health care delivered in today’s model can be thought of as a mass market product. There’s not much customization, even though to each of us, our health is extremely personal to us.
Welcome to the emerging era of personalized medicine: “the right treatment for the right person at the right time.” This is just-in-time, customized, measure-twice-cut-once care bespoke for the individual.
Personalized medicine includes several segments:
  • Personalized medical care, such as telemedicine, health information technology and disease management — the traditional stuff. This segment is valued at $4-12 billion.
  • Diagnostics and therapeutics, marrying the test to the treatment, valued at $24 billion.
  • Nutrition and wellness, including retail, complementary and alternative medicine, valued at $196 billion.
Clearly, nutrition and wellness is the big kahuna, and it’s also the most consumer-focused.
The US personalized medicine market is worth $232 billion, expected to grow 11% annually to 2015. By then, the market will be twice the size as it is today, valued at $450 billion.
That’s the value of 450 blockbuster drugs. Welcome to a tsunami-like, disruptive force for health, says PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: PwC expects a health market tsunami. It will be a tsunami if several market factors converge. If these forces don’t converge, we’ll see a niche market for the wealthy and the very motivated.
What must fall into place for this market to grow at a healthy clip are some major underlying forces:
  • Effective and innovative partnering between traditional and non-traditional health researchers, developers and marketers.
  • Welcoming regulatory frameworks, covering approval, privacy and intellectual property.
  • Favorable reimbursement to encourage innovation and spread risk.
  • Health citizen-consumers willing to pay out-of-pocket for products that will enhance their health.

This last point is the fourth of PwC’s “4Ps” framework for this market: Personalized, Predictive, Preventive, and Participatory. Participatory Heath is our Nirvana — it’s the state of empowered patients who take on the responsibility for making good personal health choices.

In theory and today’s market research surveys, most Americans say they’re walking the talk on health responsibility. But this is far from the case, just from cursory views of American mall shoppers and the success of ever-larger burgers purloined at popular fast-food brands. This highest-calorie burger, at a whopping 1,522 calories and 169% of the average daily recommended fat intake, was marketed in 2009 by Carl’s Jr. as the Double Six Dollar Burger. This is the furthest foodstuff you could conjure up in the name of “health.”

The heaviest lifting in getting to the $450 billion personalized medicine market may be in educating and motivating health citizens to invest in their health. These investments won’t be just the end-use dollar for purchasing health goods and services, but investments paid out at many parts of the personalized medicine value chain: enrolling in clinical trials and pilots, opting-in to personal health data sharing, and spending time to actually learn and understand these complex technologies and treatments.

These personal investments will be based on trust in the organizations with whom health citizens will partner for their personal health. They’ll also be rooted in the value people place on their health, and the perceived ROI of making the investments necessary to understand, purchase, consume, and tolerate (clinically speaking) the products.

Transparency and really fine-tuned communication and dialogue will underpin these relationships. Consumer goods companies that enjoy healthy relationships with their customers today can build on this foundation for future personalized medicine market segments, especially those in food and nutrition, information technology, and over-the-counter health products. Traditional health care companies will need to recognize and learn from these newer entrants who have the skills and relationships that can attract participatory health citizens to the personalized medicine market.