As more technology giants announce partnerships with healthcare and pharmaceutical organizations in 2019 and beyond, PR professionals must stay spry. This is in large part because there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” model for how to tell these stories of convergence. That being said, determining where your client fits into this puzzle, understanding the implications of partnerships and expecting the unexpected is a must.
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Let’s take a deeper dive into how healthcare and technology organizations are joining forces as both industries undergo rapid changes:
As a standalone industry, healthcare is one of the biggest and most profitable. According to Deloitte, global healthcare expenditures will continue to rise in 2019 and spending is projected to increase 5.4 percent, reaching over 10 trillion by 2022.
This is due to the want and need to improve the quality of care across the healthcare continuum and accessibility across the global population. As such, from a purely economic standpoint, it makes perfect sense for tech companies to invest in healthcare services. Simply put, it’s a business opportunity. Like any golden business opportunity, however, healthcare is also an untapped area of impact for innovators: to do something better, more efficiently and before anybody else.
For healthcare organizations, the power of technology offers arguably one of the most powerful incentives: to advance and improve the future of healthcare and change the world. The question is, how?
To help healthcare companies improve the efficiency and quality of care, and also differentiate themselves in what has become an evolving industry, many technology companies, such as Apple and Amazon, have already opened on-site clinics for employees and have an end game of creating independent healthcare companies.
For example, Amazon’s acquisition of online pharmacy PillPack represents a concrete step to disrupt the industry with something brand new. Since healthcare is such a multifaceted industry, any buzz independent healthcare companies can generate about how they plug into and uniquely solve a pain point along the care delivery spectrum – such as the easy exchange of electronic health records – will create competition and new problems for technology companies such as Apple and Amazon to solve first. As we have seen in other industries, necessity is the mother of invention, and healthcare is no exception. Where there is competition, usually innovation is quick to follow.
While some technology companies are looking to tackle the whole system, others are finding niche areas of the industry to invest. For example, Walgreens just announced a partnership with Microsoft to “develop new healthcare delivery models, technology and retail innovations to advance and improve the future of healthcare.” As a part of the seven-year partnership, Walgreens will be testing out “digital health corners” in their stores, powered by Microsoft’s IT, to sell healthcare-related hardware or devices. The partnership is also aimed at lowering healthcare costs and improving access to personal, affordable care.
Walgreens isn’t the first. Uber is also interested in improving access to care. Just last March, it launched Uber Health, presenting a cheaper and reliable option for non-emergency transportation for patients and caregivers. Additional technology companies such as telemedicine and digital care providers are also finding a niche in a transforming the market for care.
To improve the lives of the general population, we must understand the diseases and conditions that patients live with (or that are unknown). For example, Alphabet is just one of many technology companies that focused on the research and development side of healthcare by providing voice and touch technology to help physicians take notes. It’s also collaborating with Gilead to research inflammatory diseases. As technology companies understand more about the industry’s needs from a research point of view, perhaps the market will shift yet again to uncover new opportunities.
Today, it’s becoming increasingly important for brands – be they emerging-growth challengers or established tech incumbents – to align their opportunity with the right PR and integrated marketing strategy. Doing so with PR professionals who stay on top of the latest healthcare and technology trends is table stakes as the line between the two industries continue to blur. Likewise, your PR team must have a keen eye toward how technology will continue to change how healthcare organizations do business and provide care. The competition is fierce and the need to stand out is ever as important.
The coming together of healthcare and technology as a package deal will continue to be a story that unfolds in 2019, one that we will witness first hand at HIMSS19 next month in Orlando. Are you poised to capitalize with a healthcare PR strategy that can take you to the next level?