Edutainment – unlimited potential

There are few things in this world that humanity can never have enough of. Health and education are two of them. Now, digitalization is bringing about profound change in these areas, with growing trends such as digital health and edutainment. Patients and students are gaining access to faster and better results, and generally at a lower cost than in the past. For investors this digital revolution promises new growth trends and fresh opportunities to make long-term, sustainable investments and diversify their portfolios.

February 3, 2020

Christian Schmid

Senior Portfolio Manager

At the highest levels, both education and healthcare are dominated by institutions that boast traditions stretching back hundreds of years. Their physical manifestations still dominate the urban landscape and have often helped to shape the history and culture of the cities in which they are based. It is also common for them to have close organizational ties, and they are frequently driven by a similar spirit. As you will have gathered, we are referring to hospitals and universities.

What is edutainment?

Old institutions facing new challenges

Naturally, these two institutions do not cover the whole spectrum in their respective sectors. Education also depends on schools as well as occupational and adult education centers, for example. Within healthcare, the pharmaceutical industry and health insurance funds have as much of a role to play as hospitals. That said, universities and hospitals are symptomatic of the strengths and weaknesses of existing structures. They also make ideal test beds for identifying digital solutions and disruptions.

Social change and the tech revolution are exerting pressure on multiple fronts. Lifelong continuing professional development, which has become indispensable partly because of technological progress, calls the model of “education first, then work” into question. Rising life expectancy and other demographic trends are weighing on hospitals. Research findings are calling for new and complex procedures. Meanwhile, seamless communication facilitated by telemedicine and robotics is making state-of-the art medical care available anywhere. Furthermore, both institutions are caught between the opportunities arising from accelerating progress and the relentless escalation of costs. The chart below shows that costs have been rising continuously for 40 years and have therefore become a structural issue. This situation no longer looks sustainable within the scope of the traditional structures.

Education costs have grown faster than the rest of the economy

Percentage increase in consumer prices since the first quarter of 1978

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015

Digital technology enabling novel approaches

This is where technological solutions come in. Digitalization is making a major contribution toward boosting efficiency within healthcare. Stays in hospital are becoming shorter, existing procedures are getting quicker, and diagnoses are now more precise, while new procedures and drugs are leading to better outcomes. More and more people are obtaining direct access to specialist medical services. In many cases telemedicine eliminates the need for doctors to be physically present or patients to come into hospital, leading to broader coverage, especially in areas with poor service provision. A growing number of hospitals and healthcare organizations are seizing these opportunities. The very low level of penetration at present creates huge potential for growth. 

It is a similar story in education. In the past, geographical or time-related constraints – and in many cases also financial barriers – have prevented countless people with a hunger for knowledge from accessing education.

New technologies allow people to learn anywhere and at any time. And we are talking about much more than a simple digital upgrade to stuffy old distance learning courses. Combining findings from educational theory with the opportunities offered by modern technology is producing new forms of learning based on the real strengths of the human mind. As the graphic on smart learning below shows, learning efficiency increases the more the senses are involved. While only little of what is read is actually retained, the effect of traditional lecturing from the front of the auditorium is an improvement. But if learners are actively engaged, the process becomes significantly more effective.

Online education market

Growth potential and market size (in USD bn)

Source: Online Education Market 2017 – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2023; MarketersMedia

Global game-based learning market

Five year CAGR projections revised upwards since 2013 (in percent)

Source: The 2018–2023 Global Game-based Learning Market; Metaari, 2018

When these insights from educational theory are implemented systematically, this is referred to as gamifying the learning process. The idea is simple. The logic of a computer game, involving a progression through levels, a sophisticated incentive and reward system, and a clear goal structure, is applied to the content to be learned. Not only does this method promote retention of the material, learning can also be seamlessly integrated into modern life. So why not squeeze in a couple of Spanish modules on the train home from work? How about getting to the next level of that engineering course over the weekend? None of this is a problem nowadays.

Smart learning

Why does "gamification" improve the learning process?
The more a learner's senses are edgaged, the greater the learning effect.

People remember

Source: Edgar Dale (1969); adapted from Nick Van Dam, 2003

Investable trends

At Credit Suisse Asset Management, the thematic equities topics build on each other and reflect an outlook on the world rooted in the ongoing integration of new technologies into our everyday lives. Moreover, we see demographic trends and the ascent of broad population groups into the global middle class as a fundamental and enduring driver of economic and social development. Affinity with technology and the young investor generation’s strong emphasis on sustainability are also key factors. This produces a robust network of issues that we are addressing from different angles in our thematic funds. Furthermore, investments in themes make sense from various perspectives. They can serve as an attractive addition to a broad-based portfolio of equities, offering both diversification and performance potential. Or they can be used as standalone investments that are made out of conviction.

Whatever role they play in a portfolio, digital health and edutainment will help to get the balance right. These topics are fresh, the markets are ready, and these requirements will be a firm feature in the society of the future.

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