The digital transformation of healthcare

As digital disruption relentlessly transforms industry after industry, there is little doubt that digital is now your most important platform – to communicate, to service, to sell. As we all experience every day, digital has transformed the way we work, rest and play by putting us, the user, at the heart of the experience – both physical and virtual. Staying relevant in this new digital world is now a top-table agenda item for all businesses that are serious about being around for the long-term.

Nowhere is this transformation more evident than the current digital disruption to the global healthcare sector. In direct contrast to the digital service industry, healthcare has historically been experienced as something done to us. We have all had to compete on speed dial for that same day doctor's appointment, scared ourselves through late-night, online self-diagnosis and have been triaged from room to room, numbered ticket in hand, hoping we can access expert help soon. With global healthcare systems under more strain than ever, the stakes couldn't be higher for all concerned to bring the benefits of near-universal technical adoption into societal and individual health advantage.

Digital help is on the way with clear evidence that disruptive digital thinking is already transforming the healthcare industry from how patients are diagnosed and treated to how medical practitioners order supplies. With a ruthless focus on serving the individual user, the transformative effect of digital is enabling healthcare businesses to take advantage of more accessible and ubiquitous data services, advanced machine learning analytics, predictive manufacturing, patient portal access, telemedicine and remote monitoring. Technology companies are busy pioneering new approaches that promise improved working practice, increased efficiency, and better global health outcomes in the long run.

For individual patients, in many countries, your smartphone app can now help you to check your symptoms on hundreds of conditions, book doctor appointments, order repeat prescriptions, view and share your medical records. All of this helps to take the strain off of local doctor surgeries and vastly improve the frontline medical experience.

However, digital transformation isn't just about AI and chatbots alone. It is about your organizational readiness for digital and building your capability across the business to enable transformation.

We have recently partnered with Diaverum, a world-leader in renal care to assist with its global digital transformation bringing their digital brand to life, and enabling them to put the foundations in place for their digital healthcare transformation journey with the design of the first of many websites and patient portals. Our bold new design puts people at the heart of Diaverum's brand and represents the first of many exciting digital innovations to come.

The transformational power of digital in healthcare has just started. Protecting the integrity of national health systems during this transformation is paramount, but so is the need for better individual healthcare. Whether you are in healthcare or another sector, to be relevant in this new digital world, you need to start planning your digital journey, putting the user at the heart of your transformation now, so you can be in control of your transformation and remain in excellent digital health for the long-term.

Joe McLewin is a Director of Digital Strategy at MerchantCantos.

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