The Third Wave of Digitization in Healthcare: Getting Started

Understanding the myths and realities about what digital healthcare patients want is vital to capturing their value — but where should healthcare organizations go from there? Three steps can help healthcare firms start their journey towards digitization’s third wave.

The first step is to understand what patients really want and to give it to them in the best way. Here, surveys and focus groups can help, as can an evaluation of what competitors offer. Healthcare organizations can combine this information by taking stock of what kinds of services they already have or could easily provide — many organizations are amazed at how much they can do with their existing technological capabilities.

Next, organizations should segment their services by basic criteria such as the amount of investment required, estimated patient demand, and value created by the service. Companies should also consider the “need for change”— does the service substantially improve some aspect of the delivery of healthcare? ZocDoc has created a simple app for scheduling appointments and won millions of users in just a few years; this organization has clearly discovered a deep unmet need within the healthcare community.Once an organization has analyzed the basic criteria and the more complex issue of the need for change, one or two “quick wins” can be implemented, ideally generating patient momentum and building a significant user base.

And finally, like other industry organizations, healthcare firms should continually add new services to maintain patient attention and build value. Once patients are familiar with the general idea of providing digital services, organizations can begin to offer more complex, high-value services, such as complementary apps for integrated care or mobile health records. This follows the model of digital champions such as Google3 and Facebook, who succeeded in using their core service to build a substantial user base and then offered more services, thus continuously increasing their users ‘ familiarity with their services — and, in turn, the intensity they use them with.

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