July 20, 2024

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The Impact of Digital Innovation on Healthcare Industry Communications

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The healthcare industry currently faces ups and downs, wins and losses, and a “wait and see” mentality across all sectors. While healthcare technology shows promise and positive results, the market still faces many challenges which PR teams must navigate.

According to Rock Health, a venture fund and digital health consultancy, in 2021 digital health venture capital funding hit $29.1 billion. In 2023 funding plummeted to $10.7 billion. Now following 2024 Q1’s $2.7 billion in funding, the pressure from investors and customers has increased, and the market continues to face strong headwinds.

Despite all this, innovation is driving positive change. Here are some primary trends driving both the industry and media conversations.

Cybersecurity

The importance of protecting patient data and privacy is nothing new. The Change Healthcare ransomware attack in February 2024 placed an even bigger spotlight on this topic. Healthcare’s rapid digitization and continued innovations—particularly the increased use of artificial intelligence and mobile connected devices —pushed safeguarding sensitive healthcare information to every executive’s priority list.

Generative AI

Increased adoption of generative AI will continue to accelerate digitization and automation in healthcare. According to McKinsey, “Given the need for empathetic and intelligent interactions in a service industry such as healthcare, the recognition, comprehension, and content creation capabilities of gen AI represent a major opportunity.” McKinsey also states that Gen AI could “reduce preparation time and improve the quality of clinical documentation, modernizing outdated or legacy applications and personalizing patient and member outreach at scale.”

Patient Experience

With the rise in wearables and other mobile technologies, the industry will improve the patient experience by embracing preventative self-care. Hospitals and health systems will further integrate these data-driven technologies. Additionally, simplifying processes with automation in scheduling, billing and accessing health info creates a seamless experience, encouraging patients to return for care.

Innovation in Life Sciences

Spurred by COVID-19, organizations moved from slow or reactionary adoption to deliberate, strategic integration of advanced technologies. They are focused on advancing research and development and process efficiency and improving data quality for drug discovery, personalized medicine and clinical trials.

Value-Based Care

Rising costs of care are putting pressure on stakeholders while key value-based care enablers have matured—including data availability, analytics and care management models. Regulatory forces have also spurred growth, and will be something to watch closely with the impending presidential election looming.

Mental/Behavioral Health

The digital mental/behavioral health space expanded even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and according to PAN HealthPulse stress and anxiety resulting from the crisis makes it one of the largest healthcare media conversations today.

Data & Analytics

As digital health, biopharma and life sciences companies continue streamlining processes to improve care, data and analytics will serve as the backbone. High-quality data that enable and amplify human-driven processes is already in place. Efficiency and automation will maximize constrained resources to allow for the needed innovations to advance.

What Can Communicators Do to Recognize These Topics?

It is critical that brands don’t hibernate while watching a challenging healthcare market play out. Look for current opportunities to take advantage of current happenings to create brand awareness. Here are a few tips:

Take a stance. Whether it is the trends above or other topics driving market conversations—if you have a strong, differentiated, relevant point of view, get it out there. Tell the story and amplify it through earned and owned media, social media, webinars and speaking engagements (to name a few).

Put names and faces behind the brand. People want personal connections. Use knowledgeable and well-spoken CEOs, Chief Medical Officers, Chief Growth Officers, Chief Product Officers and other experts to tell the organization’s story. Align topics/themes or “pillars” to each, and then leverage their knowledge to tell a holistic brand story and articulate key themes associated with the larger narrative.

Add credibility to your story. This can be done in several ways including via third-party validation from customers, partners or analysts or by data (owned data, surveys, research).

There’s no shortage of highly relevant and impactful conversations, trends and advancements that will keep moving the industry in a positive direction and keep PR pros busy. It will be interesting to see how these advancements play out and impact the media landscape over the remainder of 2024 and into 2025.

Dan Martin is Executive Vice President, Healthcare at PAN

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