By Steve Marriott on May 4, 2021
What is digital transformation in healthcare?
Digital transformation is when you take an analogue process and replace aspects of it with computer-based technologies. The changes can be big or small, evolutionary or revolutionary. The impact of digital transformation in healthcare is often dramatic, and the benefits include:
- Improving health outcomes
- Enhancing patient safety
- Encouraging patients to self-manage
- Making services more efficient and stretching capacity
- Improving communications between patients and clinicians
There are more benefits for pharmaceutical companies. They include using digital solutions to differentiate your products in a competitive marketplace.
Successful digital transformation in healthcare
Building successful digital healthcare services isn’t easy. Our advice comes from everything we’ve learned through years of experience and successful digital transformation projects.
1. Understand your objectives
Your project will fail if you cannot describe your objectives in a single succinct sentence. You have to know what you want to achieve, and you must be honest about this. It’s ok if your aim is to increase sales volumes or market share (most industry-driven initiatives will be). If that’s the case, make that your goal.
Now, you can think about how you will measure success. What are your KPIs, and where will that data come from?
Having a real grasp of what you want to achieve and how you will measure progress will make it much easier to design your digital service.
2. Don’t reinvent the wheel
Although it might seem tempting to design something new, don’t. Very few technology projects are a massive success in their first iteration. It’s normal to go through several cycles of refinements and updates to get everything right. This is a painful, lengthy and expensive process that destroys credibility. You can avoid the pain by choosing an existing platform instead of starting from scratch. It will cost you a lot less too.
3. Reduce friction, don’t create it
The one thing guaranteed to kill digital transformation in healthcare is making life difficult for your users. If your solution is hard to use, patients will give up. If it creates extra work for clinical teams, adoption will be poor.
The opposite holds true. Create something your patients love, and they will become your fans. Save clinician time or make life easier for them, and they will become staunch advocates.
By the way, this is an excellent example of why you shouldn’t reinvent the wheel. Building in simplicity is complex and takes time. It’s an aspect of digital care that often comes with system maturity.
4. Create benefits for all stakeholders
Earlier, we said it was ok for your aim to be commercial. If it is, you must also introduce benefits for every one of your stakeholder groups.
- You can add value for patients by helping them learn about their condition and medicines. This can empower them to manage their health better.
- Saving clinician time, prioritising caseloads and improving patient/clinician communications will be popular with clinical teams.
- Find ways to make care more efficient. Reducing the cost of care or increasing service capacity will make service providers happy.
While your goal might be to increase sales, these are the benefits to communicate with your stakeholders.
5. Find an expert partner
If you’re under pressure to deliver a digital healthcare project on time and within budget, don’t try to do it yourself. Find a partner who has:
- NHS expertise: they will know how to access NHS markets, who to engage and how to approach the complex decision-making units.
- Digital healthcare experience: they will have evidence of success, including published papers. Ask to talk to their clients (who should be happy to speak to you – because they’re the staunch advocates we mentioned earlier).
- The right approach: digital healthcare transformation is a complex process with many moving parts. Choose an expert partner who wants you to succeed, not one who’s content to simply deliver your project. You should expect your expert partner to challenge you and push you to ensure success.
Although successful digital transformation in healthcare is tough, don’t be put off. Industry-driven initiatives are few and far between, which means there’s an opportunity to succeed and make a difference.
Download our guide to discover how the pharmaceutical industry can design and deploy successful digital health services.