Are life Sciences and Healthcare Companies Coping with the Digital Disruption

By Ilkka Salminen, Director, Life Sciences, Deloitte Consulting

Ilkka Salminen, Director, Life Sciences, Deloitte Consulting

Technology has evolved rapidly over the last decade, disrupting and transforming our lives at the same time. In the last couple of years, digital technologies have changed our daily lives, allowing us to order taxis through phone apps, make purchases online through smart phones, track our fitness level on smart wearables, and establish home controls through smart speakers. However, when it comes to our daily interactions regarding our health, we lack the same level of convenience provided by the digital means.

With the increasing expectations on the availability of digital services, the life sciences & healthcare industries are undergoing a change where patients are becoming consumers. They are better informed about their health, more engaged in their health status, more aware of health risks and prevention treatments, and more likely to demand specific treatments. They have higher expectations for the services and products they receive. They want services to be available wherever and whenever they choose, at their preferred prices.

"Therefore, it is crucial for traditional life science and healthcare companies to digitally innovate effectively with the right partners, in order to both mitigate the threat of external competitors and also a launch a value creation model via digital transformation"

The promise of digital technology is to drive a shift from treating sickness, to maintaining health and improving the outcomes of the care. Thus, technologies such as telehealth, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, mHealth, cloud, analytics and AI have a potential role in helping to deliver affordable, quality care to patients at the right place, right time and right price, improving access especially in emerging markets with the biggest healthcare infrastructure gaps.Hence, there are high expectations for life science companies, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare providers to be ready and equipped to meet their demands through digital transformation.

The exponential growth of technologies such as the IoT, data storage, bandwidth and processing power will enable the healthcare industry to shift irrevocably towards a more digitised operating. model. This has enabled online forums, which can provide plenty of information on specific health conditions, their treatment options and preventive cures, plus an opportunity to share first-hand experiences with peers, patients and caregivers. Today, with technology facilitating more accessible information, this has opened up a plethora of opportunities for capturing, analysing and utilising patient data. This allows patients to be more informed and connected, while raising their expectations of receiving more personalised services, and having a more active role in managing their own health.

The life sciences industry is well positioned to leverage on the new technologies to simultaneously innovate and disrupt, thereby transforming healthcare from a provider-driver marketplace to a patient-centric health ecosystem. The leaders in the industry have to accelerate their adoption of the maturing digital technologies to become more agile and patient-centric in adopting new technologies, healthcare delivery models, as well as patients and HCP engagement models.

The traditional value creation model in digital transformation focused on cost reduction via use of digital technologies to optimize use of resources, increase profitability and revenue via new digital offerings, and quality outcomes by leveraging data to use the right resource to optimize outcomes. However, the new value creation model can primarily be achieved by integrating functions and players in the ecosystem seamlessly to increase business agility, accelerate change, and enhance engagement between patients and HCPs. The new model can be enabled by digital technologies, and digital ecosystem attracting new top talent from outside the industry to foster collaboration and to maximize creative thinking.

To respond to the external cost pressures and improve outcomes, the industry has to undergo dramatic changes and forge new business models focusing on efficiency, new revenue streams and engaging patients more effectively across the entire healthcare delivery value chain. By restructuring their Traditional Operating Model (TOM) and incorporating innovative digital technology, the industry can capitalize on the opportunities of this new digital economy. This will involve changes in the industry’s ‘Ways of Working’. More nimble and agile business strategies will help the industry to adapt through experimentation and incremental learning. This can be aided by tech-fluent business-led IT decision making to facilitate digital innovation and value-creation.

Digital innovation provides an opportunity to initiate a big shift in the entire healthcare system. There is significant potential for improving the delivery, quality and effectiveness of healthcare and improving the efficiency of care delivery. Competition for capitalizing on these opportunities is high. Tech giants like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google are going after the medical services sector, with Apple heavily investing in future healthcare technologies. While it is inevitable that the healthcare industry will be revolutionized over the coming years, it has to be emphasized that traditional healthcare companies are best placed to drive the change. Therefore, it is crucial for healthcare companies to digitally innovate effectively with the right partners, in order to both mitigate the threat of external competitors and to capitalize on the opportunities of digital transformation.

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