Digital Networking For New Healthcare Business Models

Martin Kopp

Our culture continues to change, moving more quickly all the time. But many people – particularly in areas like healthcare – feel disenfranchised by or fearful of rapid changes. Professional healthcare has always implied a personal relationship between a medical professional and a patient. Some people fear changes to the healthcare system because they worry they will lose some of this personal involvement.

But even in the age of rapid change from digitization, human interaction will continue to be of key importance. In fact, digitization will actually increase some of the personal contact points. It will shift some standard work items from people to technology, freeing up more human resources for interaction with patients.

Digital innovation is transforming healthcare business models. The new models bring healthcare analytics and transactions together on the same working platform. Because they work in combination, the new models are far more flexible and proactive. Digital networking will enable a new healthcare ecosystem.

The idea of an ecosystem involves integrated sharing rather than isolated individuals. In a healthcare ecosystem, the common experiences are hyperconnectivity and patient engagement. This promotes desired outcomes, including better healthcare delivery and better patient health.

Re-imagine healthcare

Cultural change demands new models for better patient-centric care. The digital age gives us access to Big Data, which in turn empowers healthcare professionals with more information for quicker decisions and improved outcomes. This results in a broader and more powerful healthcare ecosystem, in which all parts of the system mutually benefit. And the benefits start by re-imagining healthcare business models.

The healthcare business is moving away from optimizing single providers. Now the emphasis is on building a community of specialists within a wider ecosystem. Today’s professionals harness the flexibility of cloud-based digital solutions. These important new tools allow professionals to make healthcare more patient-centric. It is becoming more comprehensive and cost effective.

Re-imagined business models for healthcare

Digital technologies allow professionals to examine larger populations. Electronic medical records from many sources can be combined and analyzed. With more information, medical treatment can be optimized and personalized. Clinical outcomes and their related services become more transparent. The new healthcare models embrace the following features.

1. Integration

The information base is becoming far broader and deeper. More information means faster and easier solutions. The information is no longer limited to one-dimensional data storage. It is becoming more widely accessible to everyone. Service providers and their information are becoming integrated into a Big Data system.

Integration of services can merge prevention, wellness, and monitoring programs. This improves a patient’s ability to navigate the system. It empowers patients and offers holistic solutions. Chronic diseases are more easily diagnosed, managed, and prevented. Real-time analytics create population predictions.

2. Specialization

The re-imagined healthcare ecosystem creates less need for wide service offerings. Professionals can rely on others within the system to focus on their specialty. Specialization means you do the things you do most effectively and efficiently. Professionals identify their core services and shed the rest. This permits an organization to scale and promote its strengths. It could result in a large cost savings if an organization can stop investing in clinical research, for example.

3. Creation of new market segments for healthcare

Greater information from Big Data can offer organizations increased health benefits for employees. A healthier workforce is obviously more productive. A broader ecosystem has more locations to serve the public’s needs. A greater number of service provider locations means more patients are served.

4. Co-operative brokering with other networks

Real-time digital platforms eliminate inefficiency. They help to connect sources within and beyond the ecosystem. Supply and demand can be matched more effectively. This benefits the patient by locating things like second opinions. Medical specialists become more accessible. Medical equipment and patient transportation are also easier to access.

Underlying benefits of digital innovation and platform-based healthcare

With re-imagined business models the healthcare industry is advancing its service to patients. As service improves, so does business profitability. And the momentum is only getting stronger.

According to a 2014 article in Business Insider, we will be able to sequence human genomes for mere pennies by 2020. This is possible only because of digital innovation to the healthcare industry. Just two years ago, it cost almost $2,000 to sequence a human genome. By 2020, it will cost less than flushing your toilet, which is less than a penny.

Another example of the large benefits is in cancer research. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is the world’s largest cancer research organization. ASCO uses the SAP “CancerLinQ” platform to organize its Big Data, and soon ASCO will be able to access and connect cancer data that has never before been connected. This data represents 97% of all cancer patients.

The most technically advanced healthcare providers today are re-imagining their business models. They know they must do this to provide the best care. But they also know that in today’s world, they must do this to survive and grow. Digital innovation and platform hyperconnectivity are necessary, offering benefits that are so impressive that few healthcare providers could resist. Digitization is tomorrow’s answer today.

To learn more about Digital Transformation for Healthcare, click here.

Martin Kopp

About Martin Kopp

Martin Kopp is the global general manager for Healthcare at SAP. He is responsible for setting the strategy and articulating the vision and direction of SAP's healthcare-provider industry solutions, influencing product development, and fostering executive level relationships key customers, IT influencers, partners, analysts, and media.