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Healthcare 'Gold Rush' Spurs Jobs, Fortune 50

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, June 9, 2011

The healthcare sector is in the midst of a "new gold rush," spurring innovation, creating jobs and providing investment opportunities in an otherwise sputtering economy, according to a report from PwC's Health Research Institute.

Three out of four Fortune 50 companies are either in the health industry or have health divisions, and healthcare is expected to account for one-fifth of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2019, according to the PwC report The New Gold Rush.

That growth – helped by a graying demographic -- is seen in new technologies, new companies, new jobs, and new markets for both traditional health organizations and new entrants from such industries as technology, telecommunications and retail.

"It's one of the only major industries in the US that is growing right now, so everyone is looking for a piece of that growth," Tom Weakland, a principal at Diamond Advisors Services, and an author of the PwC study, told HealthLeaders Media.

"Many of the Fortune 50 are traditional healthcare companies already, whether they are medical device/products companies or pharmaceutical companies or health insurance companies," Weakland says. "Many of the others are, we now find, in four other areas that we have identified as fixers, implementers, retailers, connectors. They are looking at healthcare through those lenses to try to understand where they can better define product and services to meet the needs of the healthcare industry."

Even with the boom, Weakland says companies new to healthcare could fail in they rush into the sector without understanding the market, consumer expectations, and even how they will get paid. "One of the pitfalls is the idea of the one-size-fits-all solution that is going to fit everybody. That is just not possible," he says. "You have to do rigorous analytics. You have to do a lot of customer segmentation. You have to understand your consumer base, and a lot of organizations will miss the boat on that. They'll get to the market quickly with a one-size-fits-all offering that will flounder."

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