Build a Wellbeing Market to Propel Hong Kong’s Standing. Provide a Brighter Future and Take Financial Growth to the Next Level

22 Jul 2020

Improving the Wellbeing (Physical, Mental and Financial) of Hongkongers by shifting the focus of healthcare from "sickcare" to the wider meaning of "healthcare"

Across the financial hubs of London, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a pressing need for a healthcare system that not only responds to treatment needs, but also predicts and prevents disease. In the face of swift and escalatingoutbreaks, a proactive healthcare model will be the key to sustaining the continued growth of these densely populated financial centres.

Hong Kong's healthcare systems are known for producing good outcomes at acceptable cost levels, topping the Bloomberg Health-Care Efficiency Index in 2017 and 2018. Over the past several months, its public healthcare system has proven its worth in a crisis. The city's health insurance market is also mature, with over 50% of the population covered by medical insurance as of February 20191 and gross premiums growing steadily over the past five years2.

Strikingly, in recent years, we observe that there is a paradigm shift in leading healthcare markets towards an integrative approach, moving from focusing on curative treatment increasingly towards prediction and prevention. In order words, rather than waiting for people to get ill and then reacting, markets are changing from a "sickcare market" into a "wellbeing market", with emphasis on proactively keeping people healthy rather than simply treating them when they get sick. Beyond improving individual outcomes, protecting society and the economy, the development of such an integrated wellbeing market would also benefit Hong Kong's financial services industry, which would, in turn, boost its competitive strengths and further sustain its position as a leading global financial centre.

The benefits to the financial industry are at least fourfold. Firstly, R&D and the development of HealthTech infrastructure will foster a community of start-ups, which would provide new opportunities for young talent and help expand Hong Kong's entrepreneurial footprint in the Greater Bay Area, the rest of the Mainland and beyond.

One of the key enablers for building the wellbeing market is the development of HealthTech, which would power a state-of-the-art integrated health management ecosystem that addresses barriers to high-quality outcomes and facilitates predictive modelling and disease prevention. Such an undertaking would require strong governance as well as collaboration between stakeholders from the private and public sectors, including the government, healthcare providers, HealthTech developers and insurers. Hong Kong is an ideal incubator for such initiatives, given existing regulations that are geared towards innovation, in addition to its well-established public health system and regulatory bodies.

Yet our advantages are not unique, as some of our neighbouring countries have already been scaling up their wellbeing markets in recent years. For instance, Singapore now has more than 170 start-ups related to HealthTech. Hong Kong must rise to the competition and develop and nurture the necessary ecosystem. The financial services industry not only has a role to contribute in it but, in return, can also benefit from such development.

Secondly, as a new wellbeing market ecosystem emerges in Hong Kong, new business ideas will need seeding and broader financing. This will bolster the private equity and venture capital industries. Boston and the Bay Area in the U.S. are great examples where HealthTech has accelerated the development of a tailored financing industry centred around healthcare and the life sciences. Banks will also benefit as participants in providing loans and facilitating transactions.

Thirdly, the Hong Kong stock exchange will benefit in the medium- to long- run from the proliferation of IPOs of successful HealthTech companies and, more broadly, health enhancement service providers. The stock exchange has already benefitted immensely from biotech IPOs and would continue to do so through a stream of potential HealthTech IPOs.

Fourthly, insurers may develop strong propositions that cater to the emerging needs of the population under this new healthcare model while reducing the burden on public finances. This may even lead to the development of world-class digital platforms and wellbeing ecosystems that begin in Hong Kong and expand over time into the Greater Bay Area and beyond.

We believe that not only would a wellbeing market be vital to the sustainability of Hong Kong's position as a global financial centre, it would also form a lighthouse initiative, establishing new pillars for the broader economy and leading to further market development. For Hong Kong to gain an upper hand in this new trend and become the "Wellbeing Market" hub of the region, the financial services industry should proactively engage in such processes and capture opportunities arising.

We suggest embarking on an integrated effort to bring healthcare, in the true meaning of the word, to the next level in Hong Kong by building a wellbeing market. So that Hong Kong will become world renowned as a sustainable leading financial centre complete with a commensurate quality healthcare environment. Such an environment will in turn increase Hong Kong's attractiveness as a leading financial centre,hub for business, and generally for people to live a healthier, for longer, life.


Winnie Wong
Member; New Business Committee Convenor

Mark Saunders
New Business Committee Member

Financial Services Development Council





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