As governments struggle to maintain growing on-site demand for education and healthcare, the private sector will have a major stake in the development of these online sectors, increasingly replacing their traditional state dependence with modernised platforms and innovative methodology. Countries with large rural areas and ageing populations, such as China and India, are already implementing full e-cycle programmes. Start-ups able to deliver cost-efficient solutions in this space can expect significant interest from budget-slicing governments. London corporate finance would surely back a solution to the NHS problem in the UK, for example, while business transfer agents would be keen to transfer similar principles to the problematic US education system.
States seek e-help
Governments are increasingly incapable to carry the financial burden of providing their citizens with adequate physical services in education and healthcare. Even where these sectors are already entirely privatised, the lack of qualified personnel, such as nurses and teachers, presents an obstacle to meeting demand. This issue is particularly exacerbated in economies with rapid population expansion, such as Qatar, and high fertility rates, such as India, where more people require more health and education facilities and personnel. Also impacted are countries with ageing populations that require expansive healthcare provision, such as Japan.
Online solutions can reduce inefficiencies and reach the outlying members of society, saving on labour costs and physical infrastructure, while enhancing productivity. In China, a cardiovascular-monitoring system that allows patients to self-test online and send data to medical specialists is already in place, while India is linking over 25,000 colleges in a systematic e-learning programme. Meanwhile, a globally ageing population is driving demand for healthcare, while emerging consumers want to dedicate their growing incomes to improved education levels.
Rapidly expanding markets
Firms that are able to deliver simple and innovative e-solutions in both fields can expect massive uptake among consumers as well as access to lucrative government contracts. According to trade sources, by 2015 the global e-learning and e-health markets will be worth US$107 billion and US$160 billion, respectively. Education has already made the step across the digital paradigm, due to its online-friendly information-based nature, but e-healthcare solutions can only currently be delivered on a self-assessmehighnt or data-collection level.
A major challenge for e-platforms will be to raise awareness of their existence, as even much-hyped e-governance systems remain underused by many citizens across the globe. The elderly demographic is traditionally less capable to adapt to new IT systems, while households in rural areas have limited access to the necessary high-speed Internet connections. A number of emerging nations, especially in the Middle East and Africa region, hold weak levels of IT literacy, requiring government programmes to boost educational levels before transferring users to e-platforms. For example, Nigeria, one of the most populated countries in the world, has a literacy rate of under half of its adult population.
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