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Digital transformation in healthcare doctor on phone

Digital Transformation in Healthcare

I’m Dr Pamela Walker, Global Head of Health at Kin + Carta. My career has focused on consulting within the healthcare sector and my areas of expertise include commercialisation of assets, digital transformations, strategy, acquisition advisory and market insight. I am passionately committed to inspiring success and opening new avenues of possibility in the world of health.

And this is what our Luminaries series is all about: empowerment. Here are the stories of our Kin + Carta Luminaries.

Our next Luminary, Lucy Heapy, is the Associate Director Marketing at Gilead Sciences Headquartered in California for the US and in Uxbridge for the EU, Gilead is a biotechnology company that researches, develops and commercializes drugs. Gilead’s scientific focus has resulted in 23 marketed products that are benefiting millions of people

During our conversation, Lucy emphasised the importance of leadership driving digital transformation to push the boundaries of possibility in pharma. Here’s what she had to say…

Dr Pamela Walker: To get started, could you tell us about your role currently and what your objectives and goals are?

Lucy Heapy: My objectives and goals [in my role at Gilead] really surmount to the same thing: improving the lives of those living with liver disease. Specifically in viral hepatitis, Gilead is committed to supporting the efforts of governments, payers and healthcare organisations who actively support the World Health Organization (WHO) elimination goals for 2030. I feel very proud to be part of a team who are so passionate about contributing to the elimination of a global public health threat.

PM: What will it look and feel like to be your customer in five years? What will be the same? What will be different?

LH: I think this depends on how you classify ‘customer’, however one thing is for certain and that’s the ‘Empowered and Informed Patient’ is on the rise. This isn’t really surprising when we consider how the internet, digital media and technologies have transformed marketing and the promotional environment since the very first website went live in 1991. Less than 30 years later there is an abundance of health information online. Patients can access stories and experiences from others living with similar conditions and diseases which are shared via the web in chat forums and on social media. Patients are seeking and quite rightly even demanding to be treated as partners when it comes to making decisions about their healthcare. Patients and healthcare professionals are consumers, they like to increasingly access information and services on-demand, via multiple channels, in any place, at any time. There is no reason this couldn’t apply to medicines. Look at the recent Amazon acquisition of Pillpack, you don’t have to think too hard about how that could entirely change the face of pharmacy distribution. In 2019 and no doubt in 5 years from now in all industries — Convenience is king.

PM: What will it look and feel like to be our customers in 5 years time?

LH: I honestly don’t know but to share with you one of my favourite quotes at the moment which is from ‘Hans Vestberg, President & CEO of Ericcson, ‘The pace of change will never be as slow again’

PM: What do you think is at the heart of digital transformation?

LH: I had an epiphany moment when someone told me not that long ago, that at the heart of digital transformation is simply, ‘strategy’ in a digital world. Now we all know that in order to be successful your strategy should be insight-based, differentiating and allow you to satisfy your customer requirements, however, the point that this person was trying to make to me was that the ‘transformation’ part has already happened. We’ve been ‘digitally disrupted’ already. It’s happened and is still happening all around us. Once I had got my head wrapped around that part, I realised the possibilities and opportunities are endless!

PM: What role does leadership have in driving digital transformation within a firm?

LH: In England, the Department of Health (DOH) Long Term Plan clearly defines the drive to support e-health initiatives in every element of healthcare, from patient concordance and management to helping to support outcomes. Leaders should be encouraging internal process change to push boundaries and challenge the traditional ‘safe’ pharma offering.

Digital Transformation is simply strategy in a digital world

Lucy Heapy - Associate Director - Gilead Sciences

PM: What technologies do you believe will have the greatest impact on healthcare in the next three years?

LH: I think broadly speaking the technologies that aid patient monitoring will increase rapidly over the next few years. The DoH’s e-health strategy aims to increase remote monitoring to help ease the clinic outpatient burden. Technologies that are designed to support this initiative by collecting data on drug delivery, concordance, side effects, and effectiveness will be welcomed by the National Health Service (NHS) and allow the supplier to add value and partnership.

PM: Are you bearish or bullish on AI materially impacting the space in the next three years?

LH: Definitely bullish. AI is already having a huge impact in life sciences and healthcare from patient findings to redefining patient pathways and improving the patient experience. More specifically, leveraging AI technology to support drug therapy compliance away from the clinic environment is both an innovative and cost-effective method of patient management.

We also talk a lot about the amount of change industries and companies are going through. How have all of these changes affected the cultures of the organisations you’ve recently been a part of? In my experience, the companies who successfully implement and manage change are the companies who spend time understanding the current and future needs of their customers and plan to flex their portfolio and resource to accommodate changing needs. A culture of change needs to be embedded into the company DNA to encourage teams to innovate and challenge the status quo. If a changing culture is fully embraced, change becomes the norm and strategic shifts are not disruptive.

PM: What, if anything, keeps you up at night as it pertains to your role?

LH: Nothing, I am very blessed to work with a really hard-working group of people who have a common goal and who contribute to a culture that fosters innovation and creative experimentation- this generally means I sleep very well.

Follow Lucy on Linkedin.

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