The Future Of Healthcare Has Arrived: How To Seize The Moment
Scott Wassmer, Global President – Appnovation.
Imagine you could receive treatment for a medical condition before ever experiencing symptoms.
Imagine if wearable technology could detect changes in your body’s systems—heart rate variability, blood pressure, sleep quality, oxygen levels—and alert you if something was out of the ordinary. Or better yet—imagine your doctor had access to this real-time health data and could proactively order tests when something seemed amiss, without requiring you to even step foot in the office.
Now that we’re on a roll, let’s take it one step further. Imagine patients had reputable medical resources to turn to when researching a condition or medication—a trustworthy alternative to “Dr. Google.” And that trustworthy partner could also support them post-diagnosis by proactively identifying factors that make it difficult for them to take their medication and providing the necessary support to enhance their healthcare journey.
This type of future is possible—in fact, in many ways, it’s already here. Just like the technology to build self-driving cars reached maturity long before Tesla came onto the scene, the building blocks for this type of proactive and interconnected healthcare system exist thanks, in large part, to Apple.
A New Vision Of Healthcare
Over the last nine years, the technology giant has been laser-focused on leveraging its software and hardware to equip people with the information they need to make intelligent personal health decisions—and allow the medical community to improve health research and care. Innovations like the Apple Watch, Health App and App Store have allowed the company to build an ecosystem that makes it possible to collect patient data in real time.
This has created a path for pharmaceutical companies to get closer to their customers—and become more integrated into their overall healthcare journey. Not only do companies now have the potential to create third-party apps that increase health awareness and education, improve medication adherence, allow for early detection and support mental health, but it also gives them the data they need to run better clinical trials, manufacture much-needed products and drive medical innovation.
If companies seize this moment, the pharmaceutical industry of the future could end up looking very different than the one we see today. Most notably, I think we’ll observe three major shifts:
1. Values-Focused Transformations
For this type of future to materialize, patients will need to feel comfortable sharing their personal health information. At a time when cyber breaches are at an all-time high—and trust in businesses and institutions is dismally low—earning their favor won’t be easy.
Fortunately, thanks to Covid-19 vaccine production, I believe pharmaceutical companies are well-positioned to meet this challenge. Public trust in the industry is on the rise—increasing from 25% in 2018 to 31% in 2021. To build on this momentum, companies will need to become progressively more transparent and demonstrate that they’re in business for the greater good. One way to do this is to seize opportunities to give back to society through things like research and development, medicine and vaccine manufacturing.
As the industry establishes a strong reputation for genuinely advancing patient well-being, people may become more open to surrendering their personal data for healthcare and research purposes.
2. Digital And Information-Focused Product Offerings
As pharmaceutical companies analyze the patient lifecycle through a holistic lens, they’ll inevitably identify untapped opportunities to add patient value through digital means. I predict that this will lead to new partnerships with wearable technology manufacturers and the development of companion apps to work with those specific wearable brands.
Venturing down this road will involve a massive overhaul of existing business models and the adoption of systems-focused and collaborative mindsets. In order to truly understand the full patient lifecycle, pharmaceutical companies need to partner with healthcare and health insurance providers and technology companies to truly understand the full patient lifecycle. True treatment of a patient is a combination of their physical environment, their physical well-being and their mental well-being, as well as the factors that influence those areas of the recovery process After all, to create a truly connected healthcare ecosystem, digital products must be designed to fit into an integrated omnichannel system so they can be scaled across hospitals, healthcare systems and countries.
3. A Revolutionary Patient Experience
In the future, I believe the fragmented and frustrating patient experience will cease to exist. Patients will have access to a seamless, interconnected healthcare ecosystem, tied together with medical apps and digital solutions that offer relevant and meaningful health data, a streamlined user experience across devices and next-level personalized insights, adaptive features and recommendations.
This type of patient experience will make it easy for individuals to acquire the care they need when they need it and alleviate pressure off the healthcare system.
Ripe For The Taking
This future may seem like a work of science fiction but, in truth, it’s not far off. In my experience, I've noticed that pharmaceutical companies have spent the last few years investing heavily in their tech stacks and data collection and analysis capabilities and many have already forged partnerships with promising new tech startups.
As wearable technology improves—and the personal data collected becomes more reliable—it won’t be a matter of “if” this type of future is possible, but how quickly the associated healthcare players can work together to make it a reality.