Although the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented public health crisis on a global scale, the outbreak is serving as a pivotal catalyst for greater adoption of digital health. Healthcare stakeholders are implementing drastic measures, including swift deployment of digital health tools, in an effort to curb the spread of the virus, ease the current burden on the healthcare system and maximize capacity.
By sheer necessity, governments and regulators have also reduced the barriers to participation and uptake for remote engagement of consumers, enabling access to care despite social distancing measures. Furthermore, a technical guidance paper, published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on April 1, 2020 on strengthening health systems against COVID-19 recognizes telemedicine as an alternative model for delivery of care to ensure the continuous running of essential healthcare services.1 The pandemic has thus undeniably wrought new, technology-enabled ways of working in what were formerly highly institutionalized “legacy” settings.
Over the coming weeks and months, COVID-19 will accelerate the digitalization of health systems to a new level as healthcare stakeholders adopt a more urgent, no-holds-barred strategy to stem the rising tide of infections. We predict that new ways of working and behaviors, forged and refined in the heat of battle against COVID-19, will not be easily put “back in the box.” This increasingly digitalized reality will force a paradigm shift in the healthcare ecosystem, as major healthcare stakeholders (healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies and medtechs alike) rethink new ways of working, as well as step up resiliency during “peacetime.”
In this Executive Insights, L.E.K. Consulting and Galen Growth explore how emergency measures in Asia Pacific to adopt digital health tools as a result of COVID-19 will accelerate broader digital transformation, and we highlight key considerations for the healthcare industry in planning for a “new normal.”