How the Healthcare Industry Can Win in the Age of Digitization

June 21, 2016
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Healthcare’s digital revolution is changing the industry for patients and providers. Trends such as apps, wearables, and social media engagement allow patients to discuss treatments online, keep track of their own health, read reviews of products or providers, and communicate remotely with their doctors.

Healthcare’s digital revolution is changing the industry for patients and providers. Trends such as apps, wearables, and social media engagement allow patients to discuss treatments online, keep track of their own health, read reviews of products or providers, and communicate remotely with their doctors.

But the revolution doesn’t stop at the patient and provider level. Pharma and biotech companies are also feeling the disruption from technological innovation, and they must quickly adapt to stay competitive in the age of digitization.

The Pharma and Biotech Frontier

For patients, digital tools give them greater ownership over the treatments and providers they choose. For providers, technology is rapidly changing the way physicians and nurses spend their time and interact with patients. For pharma and biotech companies, the digital revolution is shifting traditional paradigms of research, sales, and engagement.

As consumers become more responsible for their healthcare decisions, brand loyalties are being put to the test. With greater access to outcome information, consumers are more cost-conscious in their choices. Healthcare companies will need to focus on value-based outcomes that exceed those of their competitors if they wish to remain relevant.

For pharmaceutical companies, embracing the digital revolution can mean reimagining traditional sales methods to incorporate online transactions. Pharma companies can also invest in online distribution systems that ensure every hospital receives its products on time, and with minimal effort.

For biotech companies, technology will accelerate the pace of research and development by providing digitized information that would otherwise be difficult to find. The wealth of information about patients, disease types, and treatment outcomes can be synchronized, shared, and retrieved quickly and easily, improving the accuracy and success of clinical trials.

Innovation That’s All in the Wrist

Online sales and streamlined clinical data are only a small piece of the digitization trend. Tech leaders Apple, IBM, and Qualcomm Inc. are innovating with apps, health and fitness devices, and online communities for patients and providers.

Wearable technology is one emerging area doing healthcare disruption right. Devices such as the Apple Watch and Fitbit connect people to social media to encourage their use and friendly competition. These devices also come in a variety of colors and style combinations, making them a customizable accessory for each user.

Even consumers who bought an Apple Watch as a fashion statement can find themselves more engaged in their health and wellness while wearing it. By putting accessible digital engagement first, these healthcare innovators are taking a step toward long-term success.

Ahead of the Digital Curve

Pharma and biotech companies can borrow a page from the wearables playbook by putting engaged users first. Here are a few ways these companies can improve the patient and provider experience by embracing the digital revolution:

  • Put yourself out there. Communication is key in the digital age, and the first step to staying relevant is establishing a platform that encourages it. Pharma and biotech companies must create a system that allows the public to easily communicate with them (and allows the companies to interact with the public).
  • Simplify your profile. Because technology is constantly changing, companies can also create an advantage by making it easy for the public to retrieve information about the company or receive updates. A good example would be QR codes, which can be scanned by most camera-ready mobile devices to reveal pertinent information quickly and conveniently.
  • Brush up on public speaking. Continuing discussions are vital to keeping the public interested and informed about what a company has to offer. Live-streaming conferences and meetings — as well as creating media archives of expert discussions (such as TED Talks) — will showcase a pharma or biotech company’s expertise while successfully engaging with the public.
  • Try a digital facelift. Create a viable plan to transition all print media to digital media. You can redesign existing print media by creating more modern designs in digital form, and the information will be more accessible to a wider, global audience.

Digitized healthcare is changing the landscape for everyone from patients to pharmaceutical companies. By adapting quickly to technology’s disruptions, pharma and biotech can stay ahead of the innovative pack.