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Digital transformation and a robust healthcare industry

Post-pandemic demands towards a more efficient and effective approach to health, says EY-Parthenon’s Partha Basumatary.

Years upon years of experience in consulting, and leading large engagements in topics including business transformation and value creation have made Partha Basumatary a reputable industry figure in healthcare. He is currently a Director for the Strategy & Transactions team at EY-Parthenon in Singapore focusing on the life sciences and healthcare industry. 

His list of clients across the APAC region come from relevant fields such as pharmaceuticals, emerging biopharma,  consumer health, and med-tech space.

Partha previously worked with IQVIA APAC Consulting Group and Deloitte Consulting S&O, with the start of his career coming from Pfizer and J&J Medical in India. 

With his return as a judge in the Healthcare Asia Awards 2022, we traded insights with Partha Basumatary on trends, digital transformation, and post-pandemic strategies.

As a returning judge, what do you see are key achievements or characteristics for this year that will help your decision to award, or re-award, nominees?

Thanks for the opportunity to judge this year’s entries. It has been a pleasure and I personally learned a lot from the process. 

Last year’s entries were evaluated in the context of how various organisations responded to the Covid-19 pandemic through innovation and resilience. This year, the entries showed that what started as a “knee jerk reaction” to the pandemic and organisations scrambling for various things to work, have actually evolved to become more established trends. E.g. Companies in SEA that started engaging with patients through telemedicine are actually now trying to implement a holistic O2O ecosystem to help in digital literacy and digitally optimise Covid-19 pre-screening to reduce workload in hospitals/clinics. 

As a result, when I evaluated the entries, I assessed them on a few parameters including innovation and sustainability. When we talk about sustainability, most assume that it is linked to corporate responsibility and the environment, which are definitely important but I also laid a lot of stress on corporate sustainability which includes considerations such as financial feasibility, the robustness of the idea etc. 

What do this year’s nominees tell you about what the healthcare industry deems important in this day and age?

From the entries that we evaluated this year, a few themes come to the fore:

Improving remote patient care: Most of us are aware that when Covid-19 struck, the healthcare infrastructure across most countries was overwhelmed. Non-Covid patients were denied access to healthcare. New patients' diagnoses (especially in complex areas such as oncology that require multiple visits to different healthcare facilities got postponed) took a hit. As a result, we have witnessed some strong innovations in the remote patient care space. One example that stood out for me was a medical devices company partnering with Apple to collect and monitor objective patient data about surgical preparation and recovery. The app connects with the Watch and iPhone to provide relevant data to the healthcare providers. That enabled them to understand the situation of patients between two visits and reduce their waiting time + anxiety.

Growing advocacy and patient support: Whilst these are not new concepts, companies are actively using technology to create holistic platforms for advocacy and to provide patient support in the region. Patients expect their involvement in the decision making through informed choices. Some examples that come to mind are - An MNC pharma company used online webinars to increase awareness about migraine (considered a stigma) in Japan. Another organisation used LINE app to introduce gamification and reward patients for adherence and compliance.

Increasing focus on Internal capability improvement: Organisations are improving their capabilities around automation and advanced analytics. One of the largest medical device organisations is using automation to break down silos for product launches and also help make the tender management process more efficient. On the other hand, they are using advanced analytics to better visualise the relevant insights for senior management

Aside from a drastic digital transformation in healthcare, what other trends do you see will emerge post-pandemic?

I believe that there will be a greater focus on sustainability in healthcare - which will include some of the elements that we have discussed earlier such as making sure that the healthcare system is prepared for the next pandemic. Automated processes will free up cash that could be reinvested in research and/or delivering value to patients. 

We also expect to see greater investments in healthcare companies resulting in deals - especially around PE firms and conglomerates willing to take a share of the growing healthcare pie. We are also aware that there is also a growing trend of companies trying to build ‘integrated platforms’ around a mix of offerings such as wellness, diagnostics, treatment, drugs, medical supplies and patient support.

What recent developments have your clients in the healthcare sector been working on? What strategies or advice have you given to them amidst the current situation?

We are having various conversations with our clients on topics such as operating model transformation, capability improvement to sustain in the “new normal”, digital transformation (of course!), patient support, innovative funding & affordability and advanced analytics. We are also helping some of our clients in creating or making investments in digital ecosystems for healthcare in their respective markets. 

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