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Digital Platforms - Ensuring Sustainable Growth by Facilitating Interactions
Parag Kurhekar Associate Manager, Digital & Analytics | July 22, 2020
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Co-authored by :Srinithi Ramesh

At the time of writing this blog, the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Every aspect of human life has been impacted by this ongoing crisis. Life sciences and Healthcare (LSH) industry is a no exception which is already facing the heat and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. LSH industry is considered as a laggard when it comes to digital adoption and lack of digital capabilities is proving to be a roadblock for the enterprises working in a traditional business model. New realities of the post- COVID world will have a major impact on the way businesses are carried out, especially the way different stakeholders interact with each other.

Lack of digital capabilities is proving to be a roadblock for LSH companies with traditional business models

Interaction with every stakeholder will be impacted because of the following reasons:

  • Reduced access to face-to-face meetings: Social distancing will be a norm going forward and hence, HCPs, patients will avoid in-person meetings and prefer digital interactions.
  • Lack of optimum medical coverage: There will be increased instances of pay cuts and layoffs leading to larger pool of people not having optimum coverage, hence, increased number of members will end up making sub-optimal choices and opt for therapies where symptoms can be observed instead of asymptomatic therapies. Patients will prefer therapies with efficient patient support programs to have better therapy adherence, better results with minimal physical interactions with the caregivers.
  • Drive for value-based care: There was increased pressure from the payers for value-based care and now it will increase even more. There is a growing need to commoditize healthcare where services provided by HCPs, can be compared, reviewed, and then opted by the patients and the payers based on efficacy of patient support programs
  • Ever changing face of clinical trials: Remote monitoring will be the new normal as regulators have already started pushing for it. Also, there will be a shortage of trained medical professionals to carry out clinical trials as they either will be laid off due to cost pressures or will roped in to provide support in general medicine clinics.
  • Impact on pharmacovigilance: Many regulatory bodies such as CAs, IRBs still demand safety reports to be submitted using courier or hand delivery. There will be emphasis on electronic reporting to ensure swift data exchange going forward.

Considering the factors stated above, it is wise to assume that there is a need to devise strategies to increase preventions and implement value-based care more aggressively. Value-based care bundles services, payments, and encompasses complete patient journey, starting from diagnosis, pre-treatment, treatment and post-treatment care. But in doing so, very high level of coordination and measurement is required. And in can only be done if all the stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem are brought on a single sophisticated digital platform. A digital platform provides an infrastructure to facilitate interactions which will create value for all the stakeholders involved by initiating exchange of goods, services, or knowledge sharing. A digital platform brings the producers and the consumers on the same platform. It’s no more about creating linkages from producers to the marketplace and from marketplace to the consumer. Now, it’s more about facilitating the value adding interactions between them.

Must have features of a successful digital platform include: 

  • Efficient collaborations: The interactions that are expected to happen on this platform should lead to an endless series of demands from consumers and endless supply from the producers and which should not cease at least in the near term. This way, co-creation of value for all stakeholders will be ensured. Hence, strategic partnerships and collaboration plays a vital role in building the network of such mutually beneficial stakeholders.

  • Ease of use: Easy and seamless access to the platform ensures the stakeholders can focus better on value creation. Better participation and collaboration can be expected from large pool of producers and consumers only if the user interface and features are easy to use.

  • Handling Data: Healthcare is famous for creation for huge amounts of data but infamous for not using it efficiently. Successful platforms should have tools to handle this data securely and provide much needed inputs at the same time to drive additional and new kind of interactions between stakeholders.
  • Mutual Benefits: Stakeholders must be rewarded with incentives, increased brand visibilities, and novel interactions with different type of users which were untapped in traditional business models.

What values does a platform brings to the table?

  • Opportunities to increase number of units sold of the products in the existing portfolio by tapping into underrepresented target groups and by increasing revenue by adding value added services and selling them at a high price

  • Portfolio enhancement by monetizing the data e.g. providing masked data of patients for research purpose and population health management and provide additional platform-based services to the stakeholders such as patient and disease service programs, seamless data storage, and access tools  

  •  Access to patient’s data and application of advanced analytics can help in predicting medical conditions and thereby reducing the risks by preventive medical interventions and thus reducing healthcare expenditure.
  • Patient experience can be enhanced by providing easy access to their own data stored on the platform and helping them by meeting their logistical needs such as appointment scheduling, community building of patients belonging to similar therapeutic areas. This can improve therapy adherence also.
  • Co-value creation for the producers/consumers can enhance the brand image and increase the brand awareness also. Increased number of touch points increases the possibility of having successful partnerships and collaborations.

Interactions amongst

Interactions amongst stakeholder groups on a platform; their unmet needs and how to address them

By 2015, most of the world’s valuable companies had adopted platforms to create value and all those companies seem to be thriving in this turbulent times. But all those companies which were still dealing in traditional business models where emphasis was on linear personalized interactions, have been struggling to sustain growth. Physical interactions were at the core of driving sales and revenue growth for them. Philips HealthSuite is a platform which helps in bridging gap between hospital and homes and integrates various care teams. Google health is trying to bring together their tools such as search, maps, wearable OS, assistant, and AI to deliver better care. Same can be observed in other industries such as entertainment and food tech. There is exponential growth in number of subscribers on the OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon prime etc. whereas cinema halls have been shut down and number of cinemagoers are reducing day by day. Swiggy which started as a food delivery service is now using its delivery network to deliver groceries at some locations. This is how new interactions can be facilitated if you have robust digital capabilities.

So, now is the time for these companies to adopt this new way of doing business via nonlinear, multipoint interactions and create value for themselves and for other stakeholders.