di , 19/11/2017

We can all agree that innovation has become a ubiquitous term across industries and geographies

Be that as it may, with the proliferation of breakthrough innovation occurring at a greater clip than at any other time in history, why has the healthcare experience remained largely unchanged over the past decade? Innovation has permeated virtually every facet of the consumer landscape, evolving experiences in retail, fashion, CPG and consumer electronics, with companies like the FAANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) completely re-imaging the way people do business across their respective ecosystems. Even within financial services, a sector mired in legacy systems, entrenched employees, calcified ideals and excessive regulation, innovation has still found a way to thrive; catalysed by a throng of aggressive upstarts, who have challenged the authoritative and long-established players and market forces.

Just think of all the financial experiences that are unfolding around us at this very moment: now people can apply for loans online and get approval in seconds. They can securely send money in real-time or utilise blockchain for car loans, insurance and even deposits. They can invest in startups or leverage robo advisors to consistently track or beat the S&P, FTSE, DAX and CAC. All of this would have been unheard of just a few short years ago. Yet in healthcare, breakthrough innovations like these are few and far between. Many doctors still use paper records. The wait to see good doctors is typically long and adherence remains stagnant, even though the technology to evolve these persistent issues has improved by leaps and bounds. At this point, the tide has risen and the only boat remaining behind is that of healthcare.

Having facilitated many patient and HCP surveys and interviews, the collective frustration of these audiences is even further pronounced in instances where patients are navigating from customer-centric experiences, like those orchestrated by Amazon or Spotify, to run-of-the-mill healthcare experiences. Things like ratings and reviews, recommendations, the ability to easily share content with friends and family members, all feel light years ahead of the clunky healthcare experiences.

For the longest time, Pharma has pointed to tight regulation and has used that as an excuse, sort of like an absolution from the responsibility to champion innovative patient and HCP experiences. Presuming this argument still holds up as the precipice of a new year closes in, how has financial services, which was consistently ranked as one of the least innovative sectors by publications such as Forbes, now made the transition to one of the most innovative sectors?

The responsibility to innovate should not be taken lightly. In the case of financial services, startups may have played a significant role in how rapidly the space was disrupted, but once that happened, to the credit of the larger institutions, old, calcified processes were eschewed for newer more agile ones; new talent, resources, governance and technology were sought out. Change agents from other verticals were introduced and indoctrinated to catalyse innovation. Enhanced experiences and change management ensued. The pace of change was not only impressive, but also the depth and breadth of that change. From the top down and bottom up, behemoth financial institutions were completely retooled to operate more flexibly, more agilely and with a renewed focus on how each and every stakeholder experienced the brand.

That time is NOW for healthcare, and Pharma must take the reins by accelerating the pace of change and employing an innovations-focused mindset. The most encouraging consideration might be that much of the technology needed to foster and galvanise this change already exists. From virtual reality, AR and 360 degree video, to natural language processing, marketing automation, programmatic endemic and dynamic feedback loops; many of these breakthrough innovations have been discussed in much greater detail at Frontiers Health. In fact, Gerry Chille and I have had dissected customer experience in the context of innovation; unpacking problems that have been explicitly laid out and identified by top healthcare stakeholders. Our goal has been to address some of the most significant concerns of these patients, caregivers, HCPs and Payers, all examined through the lens of innovation.

Imagine how dismayed a patient/consumer must be every time he or she navigates from a customer-centric experience to a healthcare experience, either on or offline? Greater parity between these experiences must be found to truly usher in innovation in healthcare. Whether that means innovating the in-office experience and point-of-care, enhancing the way people search for health information and treatment, or extending care beyond the doctor’s office to create connected ecosystems of support.