The pandemic has irreversibly changed patients’ acceptance and service providers’ approach towards digitalization technologies in healthcare. Where previously, the industry was taking gradual and measured steps towards modernization, including the reduction of staff workload, increased speed of services, improved decision-making, and shift to home-based medicine, digitalization has suddenly become almost a necessity in the world of healthcare and medicine.
Here are the key digitalization trends shaping Asia’s healthcare industry ahead.
The most visible transformation of healthcare across the world during and post-COVID-19 is the continued transformation and adoption of digital health tools. They are visible through telehealth, personal devices providing real-time access care, social determinants of health databases, and cloud-based data storage solutions.
With doctors, surgeons, and medical professionals adopting mobile devices and innovative technology to access information like medical records, patient history, research data, and drug therapies, they are better equipped to diagnose and treat patients.
These new tools play a crucial role in preventing complications, avoiding unnecessary surgeries, improving quality of life, and sustaining overall health. They also help improve the quality and efficiency of care, develop new therapeutic approaches, treatment options, drugs, and even predict the onset of epidemics.
These advances can improve patient adherence making treatment much more effective. These include supportive, educational, information, organizational, rehabilitative, therapeutic, preventive, and diagnostic solutions that improve patient access. Advanced solutions like robotic prosthetic limbs, remote heart failure monitoring, and diagnostic devices all contribute to better patient outcomes and improved public health.
In the past, patient support delivered by healthcare providers was often complex and sluggish. Patients were frustrated by long wait times and high costs. They wanted more convenience, more emphasis on wellness, preventative services, and more control over their healthcare.
Then came COVID-19. Because of the movement restrictions during the pandemic in most markets, patients, caregivers, and providers have turned to digital solutions to remain connected, access care, and support treatment regimens.
Almost instantaneously, patient support programs (PSPs) have become increasingly important now. The ability to wrap services around leading-edge therapies, deliver superior patient outcomes, drive differentiation, and strengthen patient and healthcare professional relationships holds the key to a hospital or medical facility’s success.
Today, digital PSPs have evolved into holistic platforms and cloud-based approaches. It is not merely a mobile or a website patient interface but also cloud-based platforms that integrate and allow a seamless flow of information across many stakeholders. They can successfully drive awareness through patient education and support, better manage adverse events through online guidance on drug administration, achieve better medication adherence through education and reminder services or provide condition management support through integrated services.
The benefits of a well-planned digital PSP include to:
The sense of urgency for the healthcare industry has stepped up a few notches over the last year and more. According to the Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision 2021 report, 81 percent of healthcare executives say the pace of digital transformation for their organization has accelerated, while 93 percent said that they are innovating with a sense of urgency and call to action this year.
Among the tools making headway include telemedicine, artificial intelligence-enabled medical devices, and blockchain electronic health records. Innovation is helping to streamline physicians’ work, optimize systems, improve patient outcomes, reduce human error, and lower costs.
The industry’s workforce needs to be trained on the technical and digital skills for them to optimize their work, fix their pain points, and innovate. Using DKSH as an example, when many of our teams could not see healthcare professionals at the clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies during the lockdown period, our digital capacity and ability to go virtual became a powerful tool for us to continue serving our clients and customers. We were able to better position our digital platforms, including a more holistic utilization of our customer relationship management tool.
Today’s digitized healthcare system is seeing an increase in data entering the system. Being able to manage this data and integrate it has become the key to an organization’s success. Cloud and hybrid-cloud solutions can help organizations navigate these challenges while also meeting specific clinical, administrative, and budgetary needs.
There are many parts of the current healthcare journey that are either fragmented or untouched by digitalization. However, digitalization and changes in the legislation in the industry have provided some of the following transformations:
Today, we are sitting on a mountain of data that, with the right analytics, can enable good decision-making regarding the reach and penetration of products. Our analytics platform can accelerate the process and provide vital information and services to our clients.
The pandemic has been challenging for the healthcare industry. But, as many businesses have shown, the past year and more has taught them to be more agile and embrace digital tools and technology to remain relevant.
At DKSH, digitalization has long been a key part of our strategy and how we engage with stakeholders, but the pandemic turbocharged our efforts. We had to pivot to ensure that we remained productive and effective in such uncertain times. We implemented DKSH Connect, our online customer engagement platform where customers can search within an extensive catalog with over 10,000 healthcare products to help them find the right products for their pharmacies, clinics, and medical facilities. We also implemented a cloud-based patient solution program called PSPhere.
Dr. Varun Sethi is currently the Vice President, Business Unit Healthcare for DKSH Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. He is a board member of the Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia (PhAMA) since 2015 and serves as the Treasurer of the Board. He began his career in DKSH as the General Manager for Business Unit Healthcare in Myanmar and had successfully run the business for three years, prior to moving to Malaysia.
Dr Varun has more than 18 years of experience in the diversified healthcare arena specializing in product launches, key business unit management, and setting up and managing new businesses entities in key emerging markets in Asia. He has a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago, United States. He also holds an Executive Scholar Certificate in Sales and Marketing from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, US.