Digital transformation in healthcare and pharma industry

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Digital transformation is imperative for all businesses, from the small to the enterprise.

Digital transformation can be defined as the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers.

In healthcare, digital transformation involves empowering patients to play a more active role in their own care and making processes more efficient for providers.

As a healthcare business, you probably know that deciding which emerging technologies are worth investing in and getting your team on board with can often feel overwhelming.

The main goal here is streamlining physicians’ work, optimizing systems, improving patient outcomes, reducing human error, and lowering costs through amazing web and mobile experiences. The purpose is to use technological tools to streamline your healthcare business and bring in more profit.

Artificial Intelligence in healthcare

AI represents the epitome of medical innovation and industry players are eager to invest millions in it. The healthcare AI-powered tools market is expected to exceed $34 billion by 2025, which means this technology will shape almost all facets of the industry.

Chatbots and virtual health assistants can fill a multitude of roles from customer service representatives to diagnostic tools and even therapists.

Besides chatbots and robots in different health sectors, the real power of AI can be best observed in areas like precision medicine, medical imaging, drug discovery, and genomics. For instance, cancer patients used to receive cookie-cutter treatments with high failure rates. Now, thanks to AI’s sophisticated pattern recognition, these patients have access to personalized therapies tailored to their genetic makeup and lifestyle. While doing all this, AI collects patient data that has enormous roles in the healthcare industry.

Patients are taking centre stage

In a digital age, patients are much less dependent on their doctors for advice, increasingly patients are able and willing to take greater control of their own health. They feel empowered by the vast amount of health information available online and on apps, and by the array of health and fitness wearables such as FitBit and Apple Watch. In addition, patients are becoming keener to evaluate different healthcare products and services given that they bear a growing proportion of the costs. In a digital world, the ability to engage with patients as they make such evaluations could be key to the success of a pharma company’s commercial model.

Additionally, through tools such as online patient portals that provide medical test results, diagnosis, and explanations of illnesses, patients are now becoming participants in their well being. And that allows doctors to analyze patients in real-time.

What does it really mean when your FitBit says you’ve completed 14,000 steps in a day? By itself, that is just information. It becomes valuable when doctors and medical analysts transform that this data into actionable knowledge about how those steps helped you burn a specific number of calories, and that increasing those steps will help you maintain your ideal weight.

On-demand healthcare

Customers want appointments and care that fit around their schedule, they want convenience. People have become far more mobile than previous decades so customers expect and want to be diagnosed and treated online, through online tools so they can stay in the comfort of their home.

Considering that more than four billion people globally are on the Internet, you can start to see the possibilities that digital transformation in healthcare offers.

The role of big data in healthcare

In a digital age, big data is one of the most important tools. Here is how data can be useful in healthcare;

  • Through patient record analysis, appropriate software can flag any inconsistencies between a patient’s health and drug prescriptions, alerting health professionals and patients when there is a potential risk of a medication error.
  • Accurate stuffing. Big data’s predictive analysis could help hospitals and clinics estimate future admission rates, which helps these facilities allocate the proper staff to deal with patients thus saving money and reducing emergency room wait times.
  • Big data helps health care proprietors better understand their market. Drugmakers believe that the biggest advantage of big data is how it helps them understand their market. And with that understanding, they can determine product iteration and product budgets based on existing and future demand.

Strange competitors are getting involved

A few years back, health providers’ paper-based medical records were the main source of patient health data, and drug research and development data were kept within the walls of the pharma companies, today, technology companies such as Apple, IBM, and Qualcomm Technologies are moving into healthcare. They are able to engage with patients through apps, health and fitness devices, and online communities and they are able to collect petabytes of data from these and other sources, such as electronic medical records and insurance claims, capturing valuable insights.

For example, the IBM Watson Health platform—recently at the center of a partnership with Apple and its HealthKit health-sensor data platform—is using advanced analytics and natural-language-processing capabilities to deliver clinical decision support. Pharma companies will need to decide soon how to position themselves to compete or collaborate with these new players, or build complementary capabilities.

Predictive healthcare

We have already discussed how healthcare and pharma companies collect tones of data and how they can use that data to reduce errors, aid their marketing teams, etc. In addition to the above, another factor supporting the digital transformation in healthcare is predicting what illnesses and diseases will become major problems in the near future.

When COVID-19 struck, the internet and news agencies were all showing how some agencies had predicted a health pandemic but their predictions had not been taken into consideration because people had not gained trust for data analysis.

Information aggregated through Big Data and other marketing sources can help healthcare companies develop healthy lifestyle recommendations for their patients.

For example, you could hire an analyst to analyze keyword activity across social media channels and on major search engines to determine the most common searches for medical conditions, illnesses, and general health. The analyst could then develop a predictive model that would anticipate where and when the next big health scare will occur, and how your company can prepare for that event.

If you are considering taking your business digital but do not know where to start, we are here to help. Book a free consultation by emailing info@flaxem.com or call +256414665846 (Uganda), +254202305051(Kenya).

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