3 ways the healthcare industry is looking more like Google, Apple and Amazon

The healthcare industry is in the midst of an incredible digital transformation. In fact, healthcare companies are looking more and more like Big Tech, says Andrew Lane, Executive Vice President of Abbott’s pharmaceutical business.

Over the past few years, we have seen the rapid progression of digital technologies transform multiple industries, from retail to banking. Technology has made peoples’ lives much easier and more convenient. Not long ago, we had to physically print photos to share it with others and the only way to pay a friend was by cash or check. Now we can do it all from the palm of our hand.

Technology is also rapidly transforming healthcare. At Abbott, we’re developing life-changing technology to help people live not just longer, but better. We’re helping people with diabetes continuously monitor their glucose without painful fingersticks, and we can monitor heart patients remotely with tiny implants that give early warning signs of heart failure.

Technology is rapidly transforming healthcare. The global market for digital health is expected to reach £43 billion by the end of 2018

According to an industry study, the global market for digital health is expected to reach £43 billion by the end of 2018. We’re therefore starting to see more and more tech-based companies such as Google, Amazon and Apple entering the healthcare arena.

We’ve all read the articles that say Big Tech is going to disrupt the healthcare industry as we know it. Major transformations and disruptions are typically a good thing for the most important person – the people using our products. And, in fact, that’s what we’re seeing. Healthcare companies are rapidly embracing the philosophies that have made many technology companies successful.

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Here are three ways that healthcare is transforming with digital technology:


Agile innovation

Big Tech was born from agile innovation. Considering the long regulatory lead times – in some countries up to five years – it’s fair to say that healthcare is relatively slower-moving. But, companies are looking at new ways to increase the speed of innovation.

As traditional business models are starting to expire, companies are looking for ways to break down the legacy systems and silos we’ve typically worked in and adopt new, quicker ways of working. This includes partnerships with start-ups and more collaboration on new technologies.

As traditional business models expire, companies are looking for ways to break down legacy systems and silos

Yet, we will need to become even more agile over the next 10 years – not only to be able to react and adapt to an ever-changing environment, but also to seize new opportunities as they arise. We need create stronger and earlier partnerships with start-ups and digital companies, and to cultivate agile thinking through our organizations.

One way to do that is to foster open ideation among all employees. We recently launched an open collaboration process where our employees – from scientists to quality experts to sales reps – can contribute ideas on how we can improve medicines for people in developing countries. Our best ideas are debated, ranked and quickly put into testing.


Omnichannel engagement

Successful tech companies have pioneered omnichannel engagement and use of data to create personalised experiences for customers. The user experience is available and consistent across multiple channels and devices. People have become used to this seamless and convenient model and are now starting to demand it of their healthcare services, too.

Omnichannel engagement and personalized experiences have become an expected standard

Big Tech companies have had an advantage over traditional healthcare companies in this area. With established departments dedicated to user experience and consumer-focused design, [Apple, Google and Amazon] easily connect directly with patients and healthcare providers through a number of channels.

We’re seeing more healthcare companies engage in omnichannel engagement as well. And don’t forget that we have an advantage here: healthcare companies have relationships and connections to all areas of care, from doctors to patients, caregivers, payers and regulators. We have the ability to connect the groups and create digital tools and services that put the patient at the centre of the process, therefore offering a more personalized approach to healthcare.

Read more: How to maximize your engagement with healthcare organizations and professionals 


Customer-focused services

Patients have more access than ever to information about their conditions and treatment, and they are taking a much more active role in the management of their health. As patient engagement moves from passive to active, companies are now providing people with the tools and services they need to manage their own health. For example, health apps or other digital trackers. We need to think about how they can offer additional value on top of the medicines.

Providing additional value starts with listening and responding to your customer's needs

This starts with paying attention and listening to the needs of the people who use our products and services. At Abbott, we’re continually talking to doctors and patients on the ground, listening for ways that we can improve the experience or make it easier for them to use our products. In our pharma business, this is what led us to create a:care, our new beyond-the-pill healthcare service that will support patients, doctors and pharmacists throughout the entire healthcare journey, including awareness, prevention, education and motivation. The program is designed to help people achieve better health while also alleviating some of the pressures on growing healthcare systems in developing countries.

This is an opportunity to shake up the industry and create a better experience and better healthcare

As our Big Tech brothers and sisters move more directly into healthcare, it’s an incredible opportunity for us all to shake up the industry and create a better experience – and ultimately, better health – for people around the world.


Have you read our article on how digital is changing the pharma and healthcare industry?