We can all agree that the pandemic set us back in many ways. But in the product world, it propelled us into a digital revolution. Companies from all industries had to transfer their products to digital platforms. So, how can the healthcare industry utilize digital platforms to benefit patients? Align Technology Product Leader Lavanya Iyer shares insights on how digital platforms can help improve patients’ access to healthcare. 

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On How Digital Platforms Disrupted the World

Digital platforms like Uber, Facebook, and Airbnb have revolutionized the way consumers interact with products and services. Digital platforms have simplified our access to resources and goods. They offer an invaluable service. The exchange between consumer and developer or provider has been simplified and expedited. Here are some ways digital platforms have disrupted the industry: 

“Uber, the world’s largest transportation company, a taxi company owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner creates no content of its own. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer has no inventory of its own. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, again, has no real estate.”

“So, all these companies have no assets of their own. And yet, they make multi-millions and even billions of dollars of revenue. So what is it that they offer? What they offer is the invaluable platform through which there is this exchange of information. There’s exchange and connection and interaction between consumers and producers.”

“Smartphones brought in a new age of revolution, where you had internet on the go. It brought in the digital revolution. It enabled everyone to access information and knowledge as they wanted, whenever they wanted, it was internet in your pocket.”

On the Advantages of Digital Platforms  

Before smart devices, both the healthcare and the manufacturing industries relied on television ads to circulate information about their products or services. And it was a unidirectional flow. There was no data or information being collected on how the consumers used these products or services. Now, with digital platforms, product managers and leaders are able to access information on how their devices or services are being used. And they are able to use that information to improve their products and services. These are some advantages of digital platforms:

“With digital platforms, there is a different interaction. Here, you have producers on one side, who are here to offer services or products via this platform. And you have consumers on the other side consuming these services, or these products.”

“There is data generated on how the consumers use the product and the feedback that they have given. And all of these are gathered by the platform, and the producers can then use this to either create new service offerings. Or, to keep improvising on the existing services and products.”

“Digital platforms have to attract enough producers and consumers to come onto the platform and create this network effect. It has to enable interaction between the producers and the consumers by offering certain basic tools and services, and smooth transactions between the two groups.”

On Digital Healthcare Platforms

Although digital platforms have also disrupted the healthcare sector, they are still behind in many ways. Many healthcare industries have not adopted digital platforms into their customer care processes and plans. And in this new Age of Product, there is an extremely high demand for patient engagement mechanisms through digital platforms. There are many opportunities for product managers and leaders to create startups to drive improvements in some of these areas. This is what Lavanya had to say about digital healthcare platforms: 

“You may or may not be aware, but the healthcare industry is a little behind and is lagging in the digital adoption, and as of 2019, only 32% of US physicians and 27% of US consumers rated their health care system to be advanced digitally. It’s still in the growth phase.”

“So, all of that is driving higher demand and need for patient engagement mechanisms. Through having patient portals wherein the electronic health record sends a summary to the patient portals which the patients can access from the comfort of their homes and their mobile devices as well.”

“How can I use all this information to make sure that the whole medical fraternity is learning from our experience, and that this cumulative knowledge is being passed on? So that there are newer innovations. There are improvements in drugs, medical devices, and the monitoring of patients.”

“There are many opportunities for startups, there are many options for many organizations to drive improvements in several aspects all across this.”

On COVID Impact on Moving to Digital Healthcare Platforms

COVID-19 changed almost everything. In the product world, it changed the way that companies interact with consumers. And in the healthcare industry, the pandemic did something similar. It changed the ways in which physicians and healthcare professionals communicate with and provide for their patients. There was an exponential rise in the number of people looking for services and doctor visits front the comfort of their homes. And healthcare providers had to adapt and implement digital platforms.

“There was a sudden uptake in the number of patients looking for services, and doctor visits from the comfort of their homes. So, Epic Systems is one of the largest electronic health record systems. And in 2020, the number of visits that they recorded for tele-visits rose from 50,000 in February to over 2.5 million in April.”

“The second thing that happened was a bigger shift in being more proactive about health, a move towards wellness and fitness. And over 40% of consumers now use variables to keep track of their sleep, fitness goals, weight, and even heart rate. That was a big surge from that of 17% in 2013.”

“The third major shift has been in that of remote monitoring and in-home health. Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home have championed this. There have been many efforts that have been ongoing to partner with some of the big health systems and take these solutions to elder care facilities.” 

“The last thing I’ve highlighted here is rising on-demand services. You can get a Doctor On Demand. You have the comfort of going through the app to schedule a visit, talk to the doctor using video conferencing or audio conferencing, and then even consuming content on the go.” 

On Big Tech Strides in Healthcare

Some of the largest tech companies in the world have entered the digital healthcare space. The pandemic showed us that there was an immediate need for digital healthcare platforms and many companies are aiming to fill that need. Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have all launched digital platforms that are specifically focused on health and wellbeing. Check out the tech giants that are entering the digital healthcare space:

“Apple is moving to a platform strategy centered around the Apple Health Record. Apple Watch also launched ECG support and blood oxygen saturation levels. There are many of these electronic health records that are now integrated with Apple Health has integrated many of these electronic health records because they are interested in the data that is generated from the patient.” 

“Google has heavy investments in the Data Infrastructure for Healthcare with Google Cloud, Google Healthcare API, and G-suite for healthcare. Also, Google’s Nest is having an impact in the eldercare industry using its intelligence and motion sensing capabilities.” 

“Microsoft launched its cloud for healthcare, and it also launched text analytics for health care, which is a significant big step. There’s a lot of unstructured data in healthcare that has an immense value not only to the doctors but also to a lot of other ancillaries.” 

“Amazon had launched its COVID-19 focused Alexa skills. And Amazon’s Alexa has also developed HIPAA-compliant software to help with in-home care and remote monitoring.”

About the speaker
Lavanya Iyer Align Technology , Senior Product Manager Member
About the host
Arun Milton RBC, Senior Director, Product Management

Arun heads Product Management for Royal Bank of Canada’s Solution Acceleration and Innovation group where he leads a team of PMs that manage a portfolio of B2C and B2B products. He also heads RBC Launch, RBC’s innovation hub, where the focus is on rapidly experimenting and developing new products. In prior roles, Arun developed products for RBC's commercial lending business, building large-scale credit structuring applications. Arun has deep domain expertise in financial services gained working in corporate strategy and various business lines. Prior to banking, he has worked as a Management Consultant and as a Physician at different points in his career.

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