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Pharma must 'get on-board with digital health' to be more patient-focused

But it's not about us - it's about what patients want, says BMI Healthcare
Digital health

One of the ways pharma, and the wider healthcare sector, can become more patient-focused is to more fully embrace the impact digital can make on healthcare management, according to BMI Healthcare.

The firm is the UK's largest independent private hospital provider and its head of digital Solomon Degia told PMLiVE that it doesn't feel that healthcare has been in sync with the technology sector and the speed it has been realising truly digitised healthcare initiatives.

“To be more customer-focused is to embrace  that technology has already changed our industry, insomuch that it's elevated people's expectations of being able to access their personal, real-time healthcare data, in the same way that you can sync and access all your music and business files, and even your bank records, via any mobile device.

"So, are we advocates of improving healthcare accessibility and management online. Absolutely. It's an exciting time to be in this space.” Degia explained.

“To date, the journey towards digital health in the UK has really been led by entrepreneurs in the technology sector, not healthcare, so, at BMI our aim is for closer internal and external alignment with technology and health sector partners to try and help us realise this great opportunity.”

Degia, who was speaking to PMLiVE at the recent ThinkDigital event run by Digitas Health Lifebrands, said there is opportunity, for example, in the app market, where the significant proportion of smartphone health apps seem focused on keeping people healthy, with comparatively fewer providing support for people who are already ill. "As this will need a high degree of clinical due diligence, this is where BMI healthcare experts can really add their expertise and value in helping the population manage their care,” he said.

“The nature of healthcare rightly means we have to be measured and conservative, and whilst online presents a wish list for patients, the industry faces some significant challenges in managing patient data.”

Among these, Degia said, is the interconnectivity and interoperability of systems and devices, so that records not only link up, but work together even though they originate from different databases. And chiefly, that the access-from-anywhere nature of a mobile population makes the security access and storage of patient records paramount.

“Digital healthcare isn't about healthcare companies, or simply transferring everything we currently do offline into a computer” he added, “it's more about continuing to ensure democratic access to data, and creating a vehicle and standards for personal records access, in a secure manner, built for the end-user,” he said, adding: “It's not about us – it's about what patients want.”

What can pharma do to be more patient-focused?
“The industry is already making strides," Degia said, adding: "I'm encouraged by what groups like the Mayo Clinic are doing online in the US, and the NHS's recently published Personalized Health and Care 2020 proposal is a really positive, patient-focused stake in the ground.”

Looking to some of BMI's own plans Degia hints to a more customer centric, personalised engagement approach to enabling patients and healthcare professionals to become much more closely aligned to achieving the best patient outcomes, but is keeping BMIs immediate plans close to his chest.

“People already expect their online user experience to be high, because other industries have cracked it. The technology is continually getting better and there are now more and more ways for us to communicate with people in a much more intuitive fashion, but how we use it is as important as to whether we use it – BMI's approach won't be technology for technology's sake, but for the sake of an improved patient experience,” he concluded.

12th December 2014

From: Marketing, Healthcare



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