5 developments driving transformation in the healthcare industry

03 April 2023 Consultancy.eu 5 min. read
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The healthcare sector is facing a wide range of disruptive forces forcing players of all sizes and across segments to adapt. Experts from BlinkLane Consulting – Koen Harbers, Floor de Haan, Mika Ambrose – outline five trends that are driving such transformation and how industry players can respond.

More complex and patient-centric needs

Healthcare has over the past years shifted from a “one-size fits all” approach to personalized healthcare. Customers are looking for solutions that are tailored to their age, genders, lifestyle.

Against this backdrop, and as patients become more empowered, they expect care to come to them rather than them going to the solution. If healthcare companies do not keep up with changing expectations, customers will turn their backs and look at their competitors.

Koen Harbers, Floor de Haan, Mika Ambrose - BlinkLane Consulting

While this trend is ubiquitous across all industries there are nuances in healthcare which make delivering customer centric value tricky. Healthcare companies find themselves in a unique and complex web of customers that includes a mix of the healthcare triangle (provider, insurer, and patient) and regulators (government). Due to the diversity and complexity of this customer base, there are different definitions of success and value.

Their value chain makes stakeholder mapping and priority setting difficult, but not impossible and even more important. Healthcare companies should invest in stakeholder and value stream mapping as their multidimensional stakeholder base holds many opportunities.

Pressure to innovate cost-effectively

The pressure to innovate quickly has never been stronger. The Covid-19 pandemic set a new precedent for innovation in healthcare and also injected a raft of new ways of working within the sector. Companies that flourished were not set apart by technologies but by their organizational capabilities that allowed them to quickly respond to changes in the market.

At the same time, public scrutiny of the price tag of such innovations sparks debates worldwide. This will continue as most mass-volume diseases have found their cure and healthcare companies shift R&D focus to niche disease areas.

To succeed in innovation whilst bringing costs down, healthcare companies need to balance science and vision, adopt a minimum viable product (MVP) approach and a process allowing fast review cycles. Benefits include quickly finding out where investments are more likely to yield better results at lower cost.

Competitive pressure

The healthcare industry is notorious for lagging behind in responding to customer demands and innovating swiftly. Some of this is driven by constraints (i.e., regulations), some of it more by complacency based on comfortable demand / supply dynamics. However, to keep up with the new ‘trendsetters’ in the industry and remain future-proof, legacy companies must transform.

For legacy companies to match their lean competitors they should not only partner with or acquire their products and assets. They should also learn and adopt their agile methodologies and bring them to scale to maintain competitive advantage. Examples include working with multidisciplinary teams, being client centric when delivering value and a continuous effort to improve the cost and speed of innovation.

The adoption of smart medical devices

Medical devices – from wearable devices to diagnostic equipment – are becoming increasingly smart. The age of advanced data analytics has created an interconnected medical ecosystem which can track, predict, and prevent healthcare needs.

Today, smart medical devices are worn daily by more than one billion people generating huge volumes of big data. With people becoming more health conscious as well as an increase in the prevalence of chronic disease the demand for smart medical devices will continue to increase.

Healthcare providers will need to create strategies that address the amount of valuable data that these devices generate, the management of product portfolios, and the integration of hardware and software.

Based on our experience at BlinkLane Consulting, we know the difficulties of maintaining short development cycles in hardware development. Integration with software requires additional coordination effort in product design and delivery. For a few teams this can translate into synchronizing integration points, co-location of teams and advance testing and modelling (including 3d printing) capabilities.

At larger scale, additional alignment on development priorities is needed to balance focus with the agility to respond to new information. It is the type of agile portfolio system some of our high-tech manufacturing clients have gained experience with over the last few years.

Centralization of digital capabilities

Historically, healthcare companies have integrated digital capabilities when the need arose one piece at a time. Because of this decentralized influx of digital solutions, often in parallel and independent to digital strategy, companies are left with a fragmented digital ecosystem supported by multiple suppliers. Managing those suppliers is time consuming and costly.

With technology now at the core of healthcare delivery and innovation, the necessity for internal digital capabilities has increased. Nevertheless, healthcare companies have a tough time shifting their business models to include digital and organizational capabilities. Many healthcare companies have, because of the pressure to integrate medicine and health with technology, acquired their technological capabilities.

However, to integrate these capabilities in their organizations successfully, they need to change and align their culture, leadership styles, and working habits.

To reap the full value and capabilities from technology, healthcare institutions must find ways to build the necessary internal dialogue, prioritize initiatives continuously, and carefully manage the outcomes. Learning from best practices within the industry – and beyond – is advised.