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Healthcare CXOs: 3 ways to start benefiting from digital transformation

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Sunil Bhattacharjee, digital transformation evangelist believes that while the length of our battle against COVID-19 remains unclear, a forward-looking healthcare organisation must use this time to scale its digital offerings in ways that create a competitive advantage

CXOs and leaders of healthcare providers in India are facing pressing questions about what the future of healthcare provision may look like in a post COVID-19 world. The experience of the last few months has demonstrated the potential for fundamental shifts across the delivery of patient care.

In a recent interview, Dilip Jose, Managing Director & CEO of Manipal Hospitals while talking about how COVID-19 has impacted the private hospitals and the way forward, makes that point that for the healthcare sector, digital routes to care delivery would become more accepted by both consumers and providers, which in turn could benefit the large swathes of the country that are currently under-served in healthcare.

In the past decade, while technology made healthcare services like telemedicine, online pharmacy, personal health management, home healthcare, etc. possible, providers, payers, and consumers have been slower to adopt than was anticipated. But COVID-19 has pushed providers, patients, and payers over the tipping point into widespread adoption beyond traditional applications.

Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen in his theory of disruptive innovation describes that an entrant that proves disruptive begin by successfully targeting those overlooked segments at the low end of a market typically by being less expensive and more accessible and then relentlessly moves up the market to challenge the dominance of the incumbents.

Several health-tech start-ups in India are in the process of finding footholds by delivering suitable functionality at a lower price in the less profitable segment, the primary healthcare, which accounts for just over 50 per cent of India’s public expenditure on health. Incumbent hospitals continue to focus on their more profitable segments the secondary and tertiary care market. Eventually, with its deep technology capabilities and wide digital access, a few of these start-ups will be able to elevate customer experience and move upmarket, delivering the performance that incumbent’s mainstream customers require especially in the primary healthcare market.

Technology is starting to make seamless experiences in all areas of our lives a default expectation, and healthcare is no exception. After all, when everything else is available with the touch of a button, why shouldn’t a patient’s healthcare services be as well? Drawing on these I have listed three actions that I would recommend to healthcare organisations in the new digital economy.

  • Single Digital Interface – A single, digital “front door” for health services is being established. A wide spectrum of digital services like doctor appointments, tele-consult, e-pharmacy, health check, electronic medical record, insurance claim, rehabilitation, etc. are made available in a digital platform addressing the complete value chain from end-to-end and controlling the patient experience journey instead of providing a partial solution.
  • Keep it Simple – Simplicity is the key to great customer experience and research shows 64 per cent are willing to pay a premium for it. You can build services that are highly complex in terms of digital capabilities but ultimately must offer solutions that are tailored to patients and make their lives easier via simplicity.
  • Customer Data – Your organisation may already have a wealth of valuable data however, most of this data fails to reveal rich real-time customer insight. By using technologies like Artificial Intelligence, it is possible to categorise, organise, and analyse customer data in real-time and ultimately understand customer sentiment.

The length of our battle against COVID-19 remains unclear. However, a forward-looking healthcare organisation must use this time to scale its digital offerings in ways that create a competitive advantage.

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