Companies need to design digital products with Netflix, Amazon-like approaches

Traditional channels of interactions between patients, prescribers and healthcare companies have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, paving way for a new commercial operating model to evolve, explains Abhinav Verma, Principal – Healthcare at BCG

Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) recently collaborated on a report on how the future of work in a transforming healthcare ecosystem. If you had to describe three major facets that will characterise the new healthcare ecosystem, what will they be? Why?

The healthcare ecosystem today is heavily dependent on in-person interactions between doctor-patient and doctor-healthcare companies. With the rising graph of COVID-19, this ecosystem will continue to be significantly impacted. 68 per cent doctors we surveyed told us that they will restrict access. Three major facets that will define the new healthcare ecosystem are:

  • Physical interactions complemented with digital
  • New coverage model adoption by healthcare companies
  • Enhanced focus on patient services

So, as a new healthcare ecosystem evolves how will it change the way hiring and training are done in life sciences and healthcare companies? Can you cite examples to showcase the change that is already happening?

Healthcare companies will embed digital roles across each function. This will necessitate hiring of digital capabilities such as data scientists, visualisation experts etc. At the same time, the current workforce will need to be upskilled to leverage digital in day to day work. This requires a different mindset and companies should initiative investing in this. Most healthcare companies have already initiated this journey. Those who scale these up at pace will be the next leaders.

What are the major roles/functions that will see major transformations in healthcare/ pharma companies? What are the immediate steps needed to prepare for these transformations, on the part of both, employees and employers?

COVID-19 has impacted every function within these organisations. Roles within a commercial function have been impacted the maximum as a new model emerges to engage doctors and patients. The immediate step for companies is to design and execute a holistic digital ecosystem that can differentiate them in the marketplace.

Do you think that the new commercial operating model will be led by CIOs? Are CIOs likely to be the new CEOs in healthcare and pharma companies as the sectors finally start to see large scale adoption of ICT technologies and digitalisation?

All business leaders will need to be CXIOs. Capabilities of the future will be different from what is required to succeed today. No business leader can continue without devising and executing a strategy that has digital at its core. While the CIOs will enable execution of digital strategy, business leaders will take accountability of delivering value through the adoption of technology.

Online engagements, be it between doctors and patients or between healthcare companies and prescribers, have grown tremendously post the COVID-19 outbreak. But, will today’s trend become tomorrow’s norm? If yes, why?

Adoption of digital technologies has always been influenced by events. Digital payments saw a rapid increase and sustained growth post demonetisation. Physician survey conducted by BCG reflects the same trend. 70 per cent prescribers are likely to continue engaging with healthcare companies via digital mediums and 63 per cent prescribers are likely to continue teleconsultations with patients post the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the pre-COVID-19 world, human interactions were rated very highly when it came to customer experience. Will digital initiatives have the same impact?

Digital interactions can have a greater impact than human interactions if designed with a customer-centric approach. Digital interactions provide flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and most importantly customer delight. Healthcare companies will need to design “digital products” with the approach that companies like Netflix, Amazon follow.

The report by BCG and IPA mention the importance of creating differentiated content to communicate effectively with KOLs, patients and prescribers. Can you elaborate on that? How will it differ from the current types and styles of content?

Content can be differentiated by adopting three different strategies:

  • Companies can expand their mediums from ‘largely webinars’ to include online group discussions, patient case studies, sessions with KOLs etc. The physician survey highlighted that these are highly effective mediums, however, have not been leveraged by healthcare companies as much as webinars
  • Sourcing cutting-edge content from best in class institutions, associations
  • Last but not the least, content delivery should be byte-sized and interactive

Which are the other industries from which healthcare and pharma sectors can use as role models? What can we learn from them? 

Different functions will have different role models. For commercial function, the role model for healthcare companies will be digital media companies. They continuously differentiate themselves to create a high level of engagement with customers. Healthcare companies should learn from the high tech electronics/ semiconductor manufacturing companies for their operations i.e. manufacturing and quality functions.

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  • corpseed

    Thanks for sharing such a piece of useful information with us