Considerable scope for growth in the rehabilitation sector

Rehabilitation capacity and services are likely to increase considerably in the coming decade, according to a panel at HBI 2022.

This is not least because there is currently a huge unmet need. “Globally an estimated 2.4 billion people are currently living with a health condition that would benefit from rehabilitation,” estimates Klaus Schuster, managing director of Fresenius Vamed, the rehabilitation provider that provides rehabilitation facilities and consulting in China, rest of Asia, Middle East, Africa and runs centres across Europe. 

“In some countries, more than 50% of people do not receive the rehabilitation services they require,” added Schuster. “The number of people over 60 years of age is predicted to double by 2050, but with more chronic disease and disability.”

The argument is obvious: rehabilitation helps lower costly hospitalisation by cutting the time for inpatients and reduces the number of readmissions. The difficulty, sometimes, is convincing payors, but as that argument is won the rehabilitation market has scope to grow rapidly as populations age and outpatient care for both adults and children improve. 

Amer Jeambey, head of healthcare investments at Dubai based Amanat Holdings, believes there are considerable rehabilitation expansion possibilities for high income patients in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. Last year Amanat bought Cambridge Medical and Rehabilitation Center (CMRC) which intends to expand from 300 to 1,000 beds in the next three to five years. Jeambey is seeking greenfield sites to build facilities. About 70% of the population are under the age of 30, he said, but growing numbers of people are obese and are at risk of diabetes, heart and other chronic disease meaning there is a need for some 25,000 rehabilitation beds in both nations. The facilities should also, he said, encourage medical tourism. Howard Podolsky, group chief executive officer of CMRC, estimates that rehabilitation accounts for only around 5% to 6% of the UAE and Saudi health budgets.

Philipp von Hammerstein partner, health and care at GIMV, an investor in care and patient providers, added that technological innovations are helping mental conditions and are improving outpatient & home care. 

Historically people have tended to travel to residential rehabilitation centres in resort areas. But this is changing. GIMV owns Rehaneo Group, a rapidly growing provider of outpatient rehabilitation, aftercare, prevention and occupational health management in Germany. The aim is to offer patients access to top-quality, relatively low-cost local outpatient care within about 50 kilometres from their homes, he said with large city centre outpatient facilities. 

The panel also saw a trend for rehabilitation to be offered in hospitals. As ambulatory surgery reduces bed times in acute beds so wards can be converted for rehab units. Alternatively we are seeing the growth of campus style facilities which group a specialist hospital next to a rehabilitation unit. 

Schuster argued that mainland Europe was ahead of the United Kingdom, but there is still scope for growth as the proportion of rehab spending in Germany’s healthcare budget of €441 billion is only around 5% to 7%, adding he earmarked neurology as a growth area. 

© Copyright Neil Behrmann

First published in Healthcare Business International

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