Discussions at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin this week covered a wide range of topics including one I am most passionate about. Healthcare’s fusion with technology is fast transforming the industry and the question often being asked is how do we harness this power to improve the well-being of the world’s growing and aging populations?
I believe there are five key themes that reinforce the opportunity to achieve this:
- Emerging technologies will revolutionise the way healthcare is delivered. Today’s model of healthcare provision is becoming increasingly unsustainable due to the needs of growing, older and increasingly affluent populations. Today’s bricks-and-mortar healthcare model will struggle to meet this growing demand. The good news is that emerging technologies such as AI, VR, AR, robotics and big data analytics have massive potential to help healthcare systems deal with their increasingly heavy burden and make the best use of limited healthcare resources. I also believe that high smartphone penetration rates globally, and especially in the world’s emerging markets, mean the mobile will play an essential role in the future of healthcare systems.
- Disruptive technology-based business models will transform the healthcare industry for the better, driving unparalleled reach and access globally. Technological innovation is reshaping business models, industries and economies to the point where we are witnessing non-traditional healthcare companies – including start-ups, global giant technology companies and media platforms – entering the healthcare industry with real intent and purpose, often backed by vast capital to invest. This is a transformative shift that will achieve rapid scale through online integration and the ability to leverage the world’s communications infrastructure.
- New platform-based approaches that promise to collect and analyse huge volumes of data to develop preventive and predictive healthcare systems. The potential to target and improve the efficiency of global healthcare delivery is vast. It’s clear that the future of the industry will be collaborative and platform-based. Take for example a major e-commerce retailer’s potential entry into the healthcare retail market as an example of how digital platforms – in this case retail sales and distribution – can transform traditional business models and benefit the global patient.
- Fourth, digital transformation requires a total organizational mind-set shift. The healthcare industry, and incumbent healthcare companies, need to be more willing to take risks and be more like the technology industry. Pharma and healthcare boardroom composition needs to evolve to include entrepreneurial spirit and passion, as well as experience, to lead technology innovation and business model transformation.
- The global patient at the heart of our business. Agile companies that take a global patient world view will be the ones that remain relevant in the evolution of healthcare systems. We must remain agile and responsive to evolving consumer expectations as well. Today’s consumers are accustomed to on-demand goods and services and empowered by mobile connectivity. Healthcare leaders need to start implementing the kind of consumer-centric services that are already standard in the retail sector because it’s clear from the points above that the consumerisation of healthcare will continue at speed.