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Health care sector and markets

The health care sector continues to be one of the world’s largest industries and is considered to be independent of economic cycles to a great extent. The demand especially for lifesaving and life-sustaining products and services is expected to increase as they are medically needed and the population is aging.

However, experts estimate that further financial constraints in the public sector could result in more pricing pressure and a slowdown in revenue for companies in the health care industry. Due to the global financial and budget deficit crisis, some countries, such as Greece, are experiencing significant financing problems in the health care sector. Especially in the industrialized countries, increased pressure to encourage saving can be expected as health care costs constitute a large portion of the budget.

Nonetheless, industry observers believe that, despite all challenges, the sector will also see a comparatively solid financial performance in the foreseeable future. Favorable demographic trends, medical advances, and the large number of diseases that are still difficult to cure or are incurable should remain growth drivers. In addition, the need to increase the availability of basic health care and the growing demand for high-quality medical treatment in the emerging countries should also continue to generate steady growth rates. Furthermore, the improvement of patient benefits, the treatment quality, as well as prevention will play an increasingly greater role in health care.


We expect the worldwide number of dialysis patients to rise by approximately 6% p. a. in 2012, although significant regional differences will remain: For the United States, Japan, and the countries of Central and Western Europe, where prevalence is already relatively high, we forecast patient growth in the region of 2 to 4% p. a. In many emerging countries, however, where needs are still not met sufficiently, we expect growth in patient numbers of up to 10%, and in some countries even higher rates. This growth is driven by steadily evolving health care systems that are providing broader patient care. As more than 80% of the world’s population lives in these countries, this opens up strong potential for the entire spectrum of dialysis care and dialysis products.

In addition, demographic factors such as aging populations and the growing number of people suffering from diabetes and hypertension, which are ailments often preceding terminal kidney failure, are contributing toward continued growth of the dialysis markets. The age expectancy of dialysis patients is also rising thanks to ongoing advances in treatment quality and a rising standard of living, especially in the emerging countries.

We estimate that the volume of the global dialysis market, which was about US$75 billion in 2011 could rise by about 4% annually – unchanged currency relations assumed.

In January 2011, the United States, our largest sales market, introduced a new bundled reimbursement system for the dialysis treatment of public health care patients. All products and services that used to be reimbursed according to the composite rate are now reimbursed in a flat fee. This includes services such as the administration of certain drugs and diagnostic laboratory tests that were reimbursed separately in the old system. The bundled reimbursement rate is adapted to patients’ characteristics such as age and weight while considering adjustments for patients who require exceptional medical care that results in higher costs. In addition to inflationary adjustments starting in 2012, other special features of this new reimbursement system include adherence to certain quality parameters such as regulation of the hemoglobin content of the blood (anemia management) and the mineral metabolism in the bones.

The initial new bundled reimbursement rate for 2011 was introduced with a 2% cut as compared to the estimated costs under the prior reimbursement system. In addition, the authority of the state health care program (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, CMS) initially implemented a further 3.1% reduction. However, this was subsequently eliminated effective April 1, 2011 after successful negotiations with the authority.

Beginning in 2012, the payment amount will be subject to an annual inflation adjustment. For 2012, the rate increase will be 2.1%. The inflation rate should be at a comparable level in forthcoming years according to earlier draft bills.

The new bundled reimbursement system in the United States will be phased in over a period of four years. Accordingly the implementation of the new payment system will be completed in January, 2014 for all dialysis clinics. Fresenius Medical Care decided at an early stage to convert nearly all of the clinics to the new reimbursement system already on January 1, 2011.

Further information is provided in the Management Report.


The market for infusion therapies and clinical nutrition in Central and Western Europe is expected to continue to grow at a low single-digit rate in the coming years. However, given the financial constraints in these countries, the efforts to contain costs in the health care sector are being pursued undiminished. Continued high growth potential is expected in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Eastern Europe. We expect the market in these regions to continue growing at high single to double-digit rates.

In view of the financial challenges in health care and in order to ensure high-quality care, we believe that the more cost-effective generics drugs will be utilized even more than now. With generic IV drugs the growth dynamic will continue to be driven by originator drugs going off-patent. A factor working in the opposite direction is the price erosion for products that are already in the market. We expect the market for IV generics in Central and Western Europe, as well as in the United States, to grow at mid-single-digit rates in 2012.

The market for medical devices for infusion therapy, intravenously administered drugs, and clinical nutrition are expected to grow in Europe in 2012 at mid-single-digit rates.


With regard to their funding, hospitals can also expect rising budgets in principle again in 2012. The price increase for hospital services for 2012 is 1.48% (2011: 0.9%). This includes a flat rate reduction according to the GKV-FinG of 0.5 percentage points (2011: 0.25 percentage points).

With regard to the reimbursement of additional admissions HELIOS does not expect significant changes in 2012, despite legislative changes.

Even considering the revenue increases, it will probably not be possible to cover all the expected cost increases at the hospitals – especially with regard to personnel costs as a result of wage tariff increases. Hospitals will continue to face cost pressure and the need for further savings in their operations.

Effective January 1, 2012, the German Bundestag passed the Act on the Improvement of Provisioning Structures in the German Statutory Health Insurance (GKV-VStG). The objective of this legislation is to restructure the need-based provision in outpatient medical care. We do not expect any material changes in the financing of our outpatient care.

In Germany as from the beginning of 2010, inpatient acute care services are reimbursed only on the basis of the standardized base rates of the individual federal states (DRG system). The different base rates from state to state are to be successively harmonized over a period of five years from 2010 onwards toward a standardized, nationwide base rate corridor. The originally planned convergence to a standardized, nationwide base rate starting in 2015 was lifted. However, in light of the past experience with the DRG system, the positive development in the number of admissions, and the now completed convergence phase, HELIOS does not expect any major changes in the reimbursement of its services.

Given their growing investment needs but declining government support, hospitals are under growing pressure to rigorously tap the potential for rationalization. Financing investments is a challenge especially for public hospitals. The financial situation of local governments will remain constrained, reducing their ability to cover their hospitals’ operating losses and finance investments. This will further limit the financial scope for supporting loss-making hospitals and investment in public health care facilities, and will encourage privatizations.

It is generally expected that the proportion of private hospitals will rise at the expense of public hospitals. Private hospital chains and alliances are likely to be able to respond to the pressure to improve efficiency better than public hospitals. They often have more experience in operating commercially and creating efficient structures. They also have the potential to secure cost advantages in procurement. Finally, private operators have more experience with the process know-how for acquiring and integrating new facilities and quickly adjusting their cost structures. Experts anticipate that privatizations will increase in 2012 due to the difficult economic and financial situation of the hospitals.

Another future challenge for hospitals will be personnel shortages due to, among other things, restrictive regulations on working hours and a higher demand for specialized staff in some areas. Retaining qualified staff over the long term and training them are seen as important success factors for a hospital.

Other crucial factors for a hospital’s success are not only cost-efficient processes, a well-structured medical offering, and well-trained staff, but also excellent medical quality. HELIOS is convinced that systematic quality management and the documentation of medical outcomes should not just serve as marketing instruments, but should be an element of hospital management, and thus part of the reimbursement. In the long run, initiatives are expected that provide for the introduction of quality-based reimbursement (pay-for-performance) and allow hospitals the option of concluding selective contracts with health insurers. With its strict focus on quality and transparency, HELIOS would be well prepared for such a future development.

No consequences from changes in the law are expected in the post-acute clinic segment. However, pricing and other controls by health insurers will continue to increase. Experts assume the importance of post-acute care will rise due to demographic trends, longer working lives, and the growing prevalence of chronic diseases. As a result of growth in acute care admissions and continuous improvements in HELIOS’ internal referral management, we expect to be able to leverage potentials from the combination of acute care and postacute care, thereby increasing our number of post-acute care admissions.

Sources: Bank research


In industrialized countries, owing to demographic trends, growing demand for high-quality, efficient medical care – and thus for engineering and services for hospitals and other health care facilities – is expected to continue. The focus is on services, ranging from the maintenance and repair of medical and hospital equipment, facility management, and technical operation, through to total operational management and infrastructure process optimization – especially within the framework of public-private partnership (PPP) models. Additional growth opportunities are presented by the advancing privatization of health care.

In the emerging countries, there is growing demand above all for infrastructure development, but also for efficient, needs-oriented medical care. The provision of primary health care is now very largely in place. In many markets, the focus now is therefore on building up secondary care, developing tertiary health care structures in the form of “centers of excellence”, and creating training and research structures.

All in all, we expect the market for engineering and services for hospitals and other health care facilities to continue growing in 2012. In markets with established health care systems, we expect solid growth, in emerging markets we anticipate an overall dynamic development.

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