by Debashish Roy
The past few decades have been marked by a wave of digitalization that has reshaped healthcare in multiple ways. Digital health is a broad, multidisciplinary concept that has emerged to define the intersection between technology and healthcare. It refers to incorporating software, hardware, and digital services to transform several healthcare functions and delivery.
Here are some key thrust areas for the future that the digital revolution has brought to healthcare.
Everything revolves around patients
Patients can now have on-demand healthcare, which means they have easier access to diagnostic services, doctor appointments, and pharmacy requirements, whenever they want it, wherever they want it.
This growing acceptance of digitalization amongst patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs), has encouraged pharmaceutical companies to make critical information related to therapy areas available via new digital platforms to increase awareness amongst patients and achieve better patient outcomes for HCPs. Nowadays, there are ‘Digital’ Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) that can be provided to eligible patients as determined by the HCPs. These Digital PAPs are aimed at enhancing the patients’ experiences, broadening their access to innovative drugs, and offering quick and hassle-free therapy assistance based on medical and socio-economic criteria, thus improving their health outcomes.
Digitalization has also enabled pharmaceutical companies to conduct digital programs that educate patients on possible symptoms of various diseases to ensure early diagnosis of their ailments. Once diagnosed, these programs are also recommended by HCPs to help patients become more engaged in their disease management, under their supervision.
One such example is our Badhte Raho (Empowering Growth) initiative that is aimed at increasing awareness about growth disorders found in some children. As part of this endeavor, we have joined hands with a digital partner and HCPs, to understand the patient’s (child’s) journey and provide parents/caregivers with relevant information as well as the opportunity to consult HCPs. This will increase early diagnosis and provide access to adequate care to the children as they traverse their treatment journey.
Evolution of Healthcare Professionals
There are significant gaps between the evolution of healthcare professional’s needs, their information consumption habits, their behavior versus industry maturity, agility and the solutions offered.
Pharmaceutical companies thus need to adopt new ways to engage with healthcare professionals. This can be accomplished by introducing personalized touchpoints in the user journey, upgrading the strategy on the basis of user insights and consistently engaging through multiple touchpoints.
An example of such a touch point could be a Virtual Experience Studio to facilitate improved outreach and collaboration amongst HCPs. Such a digital solution may consist of unique features and capabilities – including peer to peer interactions, live webinar streaming, push notifications, newsfeeds as well as modules to help healthcare professionals practice real world scenarios. This will also help understand the digital footprints and behaviors and content consumption patterns of HCPs. Such information can be further leveraged in curating a customized content strategy and a personalized experience for each of the HCPs. The whole objective of the Virtual Experience studio is to provide a learning and engagement hub for healthcare professionals.
Healthcare professionals (HCPs) will gain substantially from rich scientific knowledge sharing, interaction, seamless data management and enablement set-ups leading to increased patient outreach, retention, and loyalty.
Another example could be a Medical Case Series, a web-series style content platform with the objective of sharing relevant knowledge and bringing about a transformational experience for the HCPs.
Digital Partnerships for Business Efficiency
For large Pharma companies, one of the most difficult tasks is marrying the culture, speed of innovation, and agility of digital health businesses with the existing structures and processes. That being said, there has been an increased collaboration between Pharma companies and external partners which help provide access to multiple Digital Solutions that enables field colleagues/sales representatives and stockist/retailers to have seamless real-time connectivity to sales information, loyalty and promotional information, through a Mobile App and CRM solution.
As pharmaceutical companies continue to add HCP services that in turn improve patient outcomes and implement solutions around their core pharma products, partnerships with digital health companies offer a competitive ‘head-start’ through their ready-to-use digital platforms.
Not only do these partnerships unlock avenues and opportunities to new knowledge and innovation that businesses need, but they also have the potential to drive an overarching ‘democratization’ of the digital health space.
Using data to its full potential
As an industry, we are moving towards a more data-driven approach in reaching out to our customers through multiple channels. With rapidly changing customer needs, aggregate level data insights are now used to drive initiatives and create services that are aligned to cater to the unmet needs of both patients and healthcare professionals. Patients can now personalize their health plans from the comfort of their homes, by connecting with virtual agents through AI powered chatbots. Electronic Health Records and predictive analytics dashboards will now help clinicians fast track disease diagnosis and effectively customize the patient’s care journey.
Keeping up with the times, we have forayed into the world of ‘AI and Behavioral Science’ with a personalized nudge-based solution, to drive winning behavior among our Customer Facing Colleagues (CFCs), changing the approach to meeting KPIs and accomplish their goals from a reactive to proactive one.
Through technological advancements, companies can leverage advanced analytics and deploy re-targeted marketing strategies based on data insights to provide customized services and information to their stakeholders and audience. This would help the industry maximize outreach and increase targeted engagement among groups of consumers and meet their unique needs.
Conclusion: Expecting a 360° change in the market model
This digital transformation is not only going to revolutionize the market model, but also the mindset and approach of patients and healthcare professionals alike. Digital tools will very soon become a must-have rather than a good-to-have while the services provided will undergo constant evolution and improvements with the help of real-time insights and feedback from the patients.
By prioritizing patients and healthcare professionals, the healthcare industry will deliver experiences that are centered around the needs of the consumers involved. The power to define their personal healthcare journey will be handed to the consumers by making tools and resources much more accessible. Irrespective of the nature of each interaction with patients, be it in-person or virtual, the quality of the services provided will be more consistent, efficient, and impactful.
Debashish Roy, Director and Head, Digital at Pfizer
(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETHealthworld does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETHealthworld.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person / organisation directly or indirectly.)