Health Systems Leapfrogging in Emerging Economies

By Martin B. SilversteinMathieu Lamiaux, and Emre Ozcan

Emerging economies face tremendous challenges—and opportunities—as they ramp up investment in health care in the years ahead. Health care spending is growing rapidly in those nations: by 2022, an estimated one-third of all global health expenditures will occur in emerging economies. And for every additional $100 spent on health in 2022 (compared with 2012), $50 will come from emerging economies. But if these countries are to achieve high-performing health systems, they cannot simply adopt the approaches used by developed economies. Following that path would produce a system ill-suited to the reality of life in most emerging economies as well as an untenable explosion in costs.

Charting a different course, however, offers the opportunity to leapfrog the established health systems of developing countries. Emerging economies are generally less burdened by the legacies of the past and enjoy a greater degree of freedom to design efficient and cost-effective systems. This allows them to more easily leverage technological advances, pursue innovation in operating models, and learn from the experiences of developed economies.

Seizing this unique opportunity requires an innovative, well-coordinated plan that can be put into place effectively. BCG is partnering with the World Economic Forum on a three-year initiative that will develop strategies to ensure that systems are financially sustainable and can deliver high-quality, cost-effective, and accessible care. A new project paper, Health Systems Leapfrogging in Emerging Economies, reflects the progress made in the first year of the initiative and, through several prominent case studies, illustrates the path forward.