The US healthcare industry is undergoing a major transformation as healthcare reform encourages consumers to play a far more active decision-making role. Yet despite this traditionally business-to-business industry moving quickly to a business-to-consumer model, companies have been slow to join the digital movement. Unlike successful B2C companies in other industries—which offer mobile solutions, provide personalized product recommendations, and empower customer-service agents with a 360-degree view of the customer—most healthcare providers and payors are lagging, as are pharmaceutical companies and medical-device manufacturers. That’s problematic when customers are increasingly expecting a better, more personalized experience from companies taking advantage of the host of digital tools and analytics at their disposal.
Healthcare is not immune to this reality. The sudden increase in the individual market through the creation of exchanges and growth in Medicare Advantage has forced US payors to adopt some of these digital tools, while the growing cost burden for healthcare absorbed by consumers inspires many would-be patients to jump on the web or social networks to conduct research. So why, with a few exceptions, are pharmaceutical and device companies taking a “wait and watch” approach? Government agencies, payors, disease advocates, and disrupters are launching digital solutions that threaten product sales and take advantage of the opportunity to respond to patient needs. This role should be a natural extension for pharmaceutical and medical-device companies, and we have identified five compelling reasons they must get moving before it is too late.