The power of digital health care ecosystems

Embracing platforms is giving rise to new business models

The life sciences and health care industries are at the beginning of an ecosystem-driven transformation that will likely compete based on creating network effects to drive customer experience. The emergence of a newly empowered consumer, combined with the development of radically interoperable data sets on open and secure platforms and the related digital revolution in health care, will help define the Future of Health™. Many health care organizations now recognize the power and force of purpose-driven ecosystems and how platforms can catalyze the curation of these new business models.

The true potential of platforms and ecosystems

The emergence of COVID-19 in the early months of 2020 accelerated the digital transformation of many industries and raised consumer expectations for digital solutions to meet their daily needs. Social distancing and a heightened concern for health outcomes created urgency around digital health solutions and forced care delivery to be reimagined.

As lines continue to converge between consumer, retail, technology, and health care, both new entrants and incumbent organizations are reacting to disruption by investing in consumer-focused solutions.

While health care organizations have traditionally used M&A to expand into new services via vertical and horizontal integration, these organizations are increasingly turning to and creating health care ecosystems to acquire capabilities beyond their core and achieve similar ends.

Health care incumbents are uniquely placed to lead the transition to ecosystems and capture new value because of their historical relationship and brand permission with the patient (now the consumer). While these models encompass complex relationships and accelerate organically, incumbents that shape ecosystems early may be better positioned to foster participation and create the network effects.

The power of networked ecosystems

The consumer-focused health care shift and the ecosystem revolution

Health care is witnessing the beginnings of a platform and ecosystem revolution. There is a greater focus on the consumer, driven by improved data analytics enabling early diagnosis and prevention, the demonstrated efficacy of virtual-first providers, and a new awareness of the current system’s limitations—all accelerated by the pandemic.

Furthermore, payers have accrued valuable experience in working with and understanding the benefits of virtual-first providers and have developed the appropriate payment models for them. Digital health companies today are more mature, with demonstrated results showing improved outcomes and lower costs. Consequently, health care incumbents should understand how to partner with many of these new solutions and have them compete to be part of their ecosystem to provide the best consumer experience.

In health care, most incumbents are accustomed to operating a web of complex relationships. Health systems deliver care by coordinating the various contributions from affiliated physicians to post-acute care facilities and home health. Health care has, traditionally, more expertise in coordinating the interests of diverse players. However, while the groundwork for health care ecosystems exists, many health care players lack the digital platform to facilitate more interactions at scale and grow their business exponentially.

Delivering seamless health care

As organizations respond to the technological innovations transforming health care, they should look to leverage capabilities beyond their core; consequently, a new generation of ecosystems powered by digital platforms is rapidly emerging.

Organizations across the industry should seek to answer the questions that will define their role in a network of ecosystems. These companies need to decide which assets they possess that are valued by others and potentially underutilized and which archetypes they aspire to become. They need to decide whether they will convene an ecosystem or participate as a provider of a specific solution.

Learn more from Deloitte Insights and the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions

As the focus of health care moves towards well-care, digital platforms can help organizations improve and expand their services. And health tech investor trends indicate that platform-enabled ecosystems are among the most impactful investment areas.

Explore the key components of a successful, sustainable platform-enabled ecosystem.

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