Reimagining Healthcare in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Just as previous industrial revolutions enhanced economies and improved the quality-of-life and prosperity of people everywhere, the technology innovation underpinning the Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to reshape businesses and society dramatically. 

It’s not inconceivable that the current wave of global development could go even further. Powered by AI, AR, 3D printing, advances in data analysis, and other disruptive technologies and platforms that promote new efficiencies and scale, it can offer real-world downstream benefits to people and communities.

Central to the transformation we’re experiencing is the merging of physical and digital worlds which is reshaping traditional business models across industries. This has a flow-on effect on customer expectations, product enhancement, collaborative innovation, and organizational forms.

This wave of transformation is making its mark on the healthcare sector. MedTech innovations like predictive healthcare, personalized treatments, and digital assistants are enabling doctors to personalize healthcare and empowering patients to be active participants in their own healthcare. This new category called the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is predicted to grow in value from USD 11 billion in 2017 to USD 51 billion by 2022 in the Asia Pacific.

With innovation happening as such speed, the healthcare sector’s challenge is to adapt and transform as a collective to effectively respond to world issues such as aging populations and the increasing demand for access to first-world treatments. These are no small trends: Asia Pacific’s total healthcare spending will surge to USD 2.27 trillion by 2026, driven by higher healthcare costs, the rising incidence of chronic diseases, a booming middle class, and aging demographics. By 2050, 1.3 billion, or more than a quarter of the population in the region, will be 60 years or older.

Lessons from Adjacent Industries

In addressing this challenge, we can learn from other industries’ transformation journeys and the ways that they have embraced a digital-first mindset to achieve change.

Digital innovation needs to permeate throughout the organization. According to IDC and Microsoft Research, healthcare organizations that embrace digital transformation see improvements of up to 21% in patient outcomes and disease prevention, as well as an improved patient experience and cost reductions.

However, sustaining transformation requires a drive from within an organization and most importantly, from its leaders.

One way to achieve this is to employ tech-savvy senior leaders and specialist transformation-driven people to challenge mindsets. They will encourage experimentation through rapid prototyping and encourage a steeper learning curve. Healthcare leaders can also consistently assess how to embed innovation and diversity across teams best to improve performance while working to understand the motivations and performance drivers of their people better.

Talent Matters

Employees also need to be digitally savvy, with an understanding of how to apply technology tools to remain relevant. Talent and career development programs are essential to developing a strong people pipeline, motivating and challenging employees at all levels to continually improve, and to overcoming resistance to digital-inspired change.

The combination of digital and people innovation is integral to creating a dynamic and creative environment for healthcare professionals, enabling them to develop meaningful experiences for patients and maximize the patient benefits offered by emerging technologies.

Cross-industry partnerships also present an opportunity to deliver scale and impact. Progressive pharmaceutical companies are pursuing digital partnerships to enhance their role in the healthcare value chain, while Asia tech giants like Alibaba, Tencent, and Grab are also taking notice of the healthcare industry’s potential.

Partnering with Startups

Forming strategic alliances with tech startups is one way to drive transformative innovation to enhance the patient experience.

At Mundipharma, we partnered with Biofourmis, a Singapore-based MedTech startup, to develop a pain management solution that offers caregivers and doctors insights into patients' pain. The solution uses advanced machine learning, combining multiple physiology biomarkers captured using wearable devices to calculate the presence and severity of pain objectively. Caregivers can now accurately administer the right doses of medication, even remotely, to patients experiencing acute pain.

This is just one example of how we can manage burgeoning demand to make treatment more accessible and improve patient care without compromising on the efficacy of healthcare delivery.

Realizing the potential of the technology innovation delivered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution requires us to embrace cross-industry collaboration, digital transformation and reimagine our business models with a digital mindset to create better lives for patients and consumers.

Raman Singh, chief executive officer at Mundipharma wrote this article.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CDOTrends.