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A HealthXL analysis on the future of digital health in pharma based on reflections, learnings and expertise from industry leaders.

Over the past decade, pharma’s interaction with digital health has grown more sophisticated and purposeful. While initial forays concentrated on testing and piloting isolated digital health innovations, the focus soon shifted to more advanced and riskier
explorations. In the last few years, major pharmaceutical companies announced their plans to generate new revenue streams from standalone digital assets while others articulated ambitious visions of digital ecosystems focused on improving patient
experiences and outcomes.

In the last year however, amongst the general economic malaise that 2022 ushered in, innovation wrapped around the drug has become the object of budgetary scrutiny in pharmaceutical companies. In many ways, the scrutiny is justified: a great number of digital health initiatives backed by the pharmaceutical industry have yet to provide a return on investment (ROI), demonstrate significant adoption, or prove true value to the end user.

The digital health industry continues to evolve amidst fragmented healthcare systems: this partially explains why pharma have struggled to articulate the value proposition and exact fit for digital health to their core business. There is no doubt that pharma need to break into digital healthcare; patients are becoming increasingly savvy about their treatment options, they behave like consumers and expect better standards of care.

Pharma companies can capitalise on this demand, but they will need to be guided by enterprise strategies that prioritise the delivery of purposeful, multipronged, yet integrated, and ultimately, superior treatment experiences.

In this report, we contend that pharma’s relationship with digital health to date has been opportunistic rather than strategic. Much of this has to with pharma not asking the right questions of digital health. As a result, strategic objectives are at odds with what patients and healthcare practitioners value as worthwhile experiences. With input from thought leaders and experts we outline a framework to guide pharma in building stronger foundations for digital health.

In many ways, Pharma 3.0 will be about establishing the right foundations for build and scale - it will be focused on asking different questions and solving the right pain points with the most appropriate tools. Success in digital health also needs to be
reframed for this next phase. Focusing solely on ROI is reductive; pharma will realise wider returns with digital if they finally focus on truly delivering value to patients and HCPs.

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