The new digital possibilities in healthcare will have a profound effect: on the relationship between patients and healthcare professionals, as well as on the prerequisites that companies in the healthcare industry need to provide with appropriate digital strategies and IT assets. What influence will this development have on future e-health concepts? And what information technology requirements do affected companies have to fulfill to reap specific value from digitalization?
On the increasingly digitalized healthcare market, the role of the patient is in the process of changing to that of a classic consumer. According to a survey by Deloitte1, unified communications, namely media that offer real-time communication, are among the new communication channels between patients and healthcare professionals.
Impacts of digitalization on healthcare in the year 2020
Digital healthcare, looking ahead to 2020, is actually developing in a direction where medical care will happen at home, and is no longer restricted to doctors’ offices, outpatient clinics or hospitals. This is due to omnipresent digital communication, enabling a more virtual link between doctor and patient, and thus location-independent care. Specialized healthcare for emergencies would be reserved to inpatient healthcare facilities. Local day clinics would carry out interventions that do not require a long-term hospital stay. And follow-up care would take place at the patient’s home.
Video communication using web-integrated and integrable wireless devices constitutes one example of digital communication between patient and service provider. The prerequisite for this: certified and legally compliant solutions. The benefits are a huge increase in healthcare productivity, such as by reducing or eliminating waiting times because routine checks are carried out by e-visits. And enabling remote physical examinations – supported by digital diagnosis tools. This entails an essential paradigm shift: patients become owners of their medical records.
This in turn assumes a uniform database and secure access to the data by the relevant authorized persons and institutions. And the players must be able to access the data using different mobile and stationary devices. From the health IT perspective, it is necessary to set up knowledge-based databases that are accessible online with regulated and secure real-time access for clinics, doctors and patients. At the same time this data constitutes a valuable resource, for instance for pharmaceutical, medical or biotechnology companies.
Significance of health IT as the precondition and supporter of (the) digital transformation
The requirements from health IT have thus become more complex and diverse.2 For the companies referred to above, this means establishing high-performing CRM systems with a connection to cloud-based services and an e-commerce platform. As a new model to improve marketing, customer management and marketing, modern, scalable B2B e-commerce platforms offer numerous advantages: they internally connect in a useful way the user groups of marketing, sales and product management, as well as all technical backend systems, such as PIM, CRM, ERP and BI. In this way they make use of synergy effects, offering a central point of contact for all sales activities – including transparent external platforms for patients, healthcare professionals and hospitals.
The improved process integration and the potential for optimization lead to high cost savings. A modern e-commerce platform thus means savings on licenses, maintenance and software maintenance, operations and development. It also enables companies to centrally manage their entire digital supply chain:
- EDI platforms with a direct link to EDI clearing provider
- E-procurement platforms for medium-sized customers
- Webshops for smaller customers
- Mobile apps for sales force
- Key account integrations for punch-outs
- Distributor portals/shops for international sales partners and distributors.
A so-called “re-platforming” links existing backend systems to an integrated customer interaction platform and a full sales information system. On the basis of such a highly integrated, modern and scalable e-commerce platform, digital transformation can succeed and attention can be turned to developing new business models.