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What We Heard – Convergence of Digital & Health

Presentation highlights

Egon Zehnder Istanbul recently hosted a presentation by Cozi Namer, Healthcare Industry Development Lead at Google, based in New York. As the subject of digital revolution continues to gain momentum in the performance-focused corporate world, healthcare industry is also in a state of constant transformation. Mr. Namer, with his experience in one of the leading digital companies of the world, has become a widely recognized leader in this ever-evolving field. Complemented by the intriguing discussions of the participants, Mr. Namer gave an inspiring presentation in front of a select group of Turkish Top Executives on the future of digital health. In this document, we are delighted to share a brief summary of what we heard.

In the age of “Best” and in the land of “Now”, everyone wants the best under their fingertips; to meet the demand whereas traditional industries are continually transformed by new technologies. Likewise in health industry, digital is driving the change where “Connected, Personalized and Frictionless” world is promised. As the whole human health is mapped by high value services like mobile health records and integrated-care companion apps of organizations, the general idea of digital service provision is getting prevalent.

A New Look at Health

To begin with, the concept of “health” has drastically changed. It now refers to “holistic wellness”, instead of “being cured” from an illness. The treatment is not curing the illness, but maintaining a state where one does not get sick at all. Therefore the expectation of a patient is now more comprehensive, resulting the private hospitals to create new CRM Tools where they keep up with the patient’s life even more closely.

“The key is to keep people healthy, protect them from falling sick. Health industry, hospitals, doctors cannot be separated from nutrition and food sector. Apart from curing diabetes, we need to discuss why sugar is still not banned. Disruption occurs when holistic medicine and capitalism crashes.”

Kıvılcım Kayabali
Managing Partner, Pharma Tailor Made Services

As the concept of “health” changes, digital is basically defining a new era in health research where online sources are used 2 times more than printed journals and reference materials. (Google Consumer Survey 2017) The fact that %66 of the internet users of Turkey are using internet for obtaining health information (TUIK Household Survey, 2016). As %77 of senior executives of pharmaceutical companies state, creating an alternative marketing channel is on the top 5 operational problems (IMS Quintiles Survey, 2017), also demonstrating the increasing convergence of digital & health. It is certainly not a coincidence that every 1 search of 30 searches in Google Turkey are on health topics. (Google, 2017)

“The fact that there is no major digital revolution in health industry like in the banking industry, results from the fact that the law still requires the doctor to be in physical contact with the patient. This is something that cannot be accomplished online or by artificial intelligence. Doctors are indeed awakened by transformations like eye-detecting technologies; yet there is still a slight distrust in treatment process that needs to be overcame.”

Özgür Turgay
Chairman, Wellpoint Health, Safety & Environment

Adoption of New Technologies and Human Factor

The adoption of digitalization in healthcare industry has, in general, followed a similar pattern as in other industries. As healthcare becomes increasingly digitized, the promise of improved care enabled by technological advances scales up. Now that patients around the world have grown more comfortable using digital networks and services, healthcare companies continually add new services to keep patient attention and build value. For instance online services of Google, provided free-of-charge, inform us how well an internet site works across mobile and desktop devices and which criteria is searched in which hours, therefore helping the companies to adjust their services and strategies

“Information, in general, is getting so massive that whether artificial intelligence is going to surpass human mind is a major concern. Even though we can have the machines learn information and adapt skills, we still cannot trust its ethical and conscientious decisions.”

Eray Yüksek
President, Futurists Association

Even though Artificial Intelligence is replacing many automated tasks, human relationship, indeed is still an inseparable part of Active Care which includes research phase, treatment and follow-up in treatment. How the hospitals & doctors manage patient engagement and retention are key factors when assessing human relationships on digital & health. After creating a talent pool for driving the change, enabling it to implement change and embrace digital processes, the companies need to put in place a relational framework in order for the strategy to prevail.

Cultivating the Right Partners to Create New, Disruptive Processes

In the path to success, the prescription entails an amazing team, a good plan and more importantly, relentless execution, a step which we tend to miss in the process of digitalization.

“Digital transformation took place faster than talent transformation. In order to digitally transform a company and start seeing the benefits; there needs to be a culture change and a massive uplift of digital skills for majority of the talent. Only in this case such talent can follow the digital transformation leader with a fresh mindset and create a futuristic vision. This is highly crucial for all companies who want to stay competitive in industry.”

Burcu Bıçakçı Ersoy
Head of Telecommunication & Communication Practice, Egon Zehnder, Istanbul

In summary, in this age where “biology is becoming an information technology” (Jason Silva on Singularity), health companies indeed need to adopt new models of business, align their services with new technologies while at the same time retain / hire digitally skilled leaders to drive the change and influence the masses. Healthcare industry surely must embrace disruption and take a business approach to achieving digitalization.

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