Healthcare industry has big digital aspirations, but implementation lacking

05 December 2019 2 min. read
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Healthcare companies are jumping on the digital solutions bandwagon, but they have trouble with implementation, according to the Simon-Kucher & Partners’ Digital Health Trend Study 2019. The strategy and marketing consultancy surveyed more than 120 pharma and medtech managers worldwide for the study.

According to the survey, transformation at healthcare firms is progressing slowly, with 59% of pharma, medtech, and consumer healthcare companies lacking a fully defined digital strategy.

Healthcare firms are split on the models they use to define their strategy, with 56% using dedicated digital teams, while 42% use a commercial team.

There is consensus on originating digital health strategies at headquarters, with nearly 90% of respondents saying that company headquarters define strategy for all business units.

The report found that firms using a dedicated digital team are more satisfied with defined strategies, but often fail to implement them effectively because of a lack of resources. Only 5% of companies which used commercial team, however, were dissatisfied with the amount of resources or staffing capacity.

Healthcare industry has big digital aspirations, but implementation lacking

Jan Bordon, senior director and digital health expert at Simon-Kucher, said, “It doesn’t matter whether a digital or a commercial team is responsible. In the end… the company must ensure it has expertise on commercial market access in the digital context and make the necessary resources available with support from every department.”

Seventy percent said they want to improve their portfolios with digital add-on services, and 38% with standalone digital offers; half wanted to collect customer data to expand portfolios. For a third of respondents, there was no consistent investment focus, allocating resources evenly across departments like marketing, products, and sales.

Hoping for profitable outcomes from their products and services, digitalization for this area was cited as the main focus of investment. Respondents also predicted that 32% of their revenues would be generated through digital solutions by 2030.

The Simon-Kucher report found that different subsets of healthcare firms had varied priorities. Pharma companies invested nearly 14% into digital research; consumer healthcare firms put one-fifth of the investment budget into digital marketing; and medtech put 20% into digital products.

Christian Schuler, senior partner at Simon-Kucher, commented, “Digital strategies only work when their offer design is customer-focused and has a clearly defined service promise supported by clinical evidence. With a well-functioning internal setup and a digital strategy that is integrated into the company’s existing portfolio, the chances of a successful market entry with long-lasting impact are particularly high.”