By Susan Garfield, Principal at EY
Due to COVID-19, stakeholders across the health care and life sciences industry are accelerating their transformation agenda to embrace innovation and leverage digital solutions to drive outcomes. EY spoke with stakeholders across the health care ecosystem, representing payers, tech and digital health, on Monday, September 7, 2020 during The Virtual MedTech Conference. The panelists of If Behavior Change is the Goal, How Medtech and Digital Therapeutics Are Owning the Nudge and Changing the Outcomes Power Paradigm (Michael Sherman-CMO at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, David Rhew-CMO at Microsoft, and Jeffrey Abraham-Vice President at Health Advances) discussed what’s working well and how companies can continue to evolve, iterate and innovate to help their customers and improve patient lives. Below are key points from this conversation.
Collaborate to innovate
One of the biggest challenges payers face is working with companies to co-develop solutions that address an unmet need and help achieve mutual, sustainable goals. Time and again, companies approach payers with a pre-baked solution unrelated to a payer’s biggest challenges, while payers want to work with pharma, tech and digital health companies to create solutions together. Piloting ideas and solutions are the way to go, as they provide an opportunity to demonstrate measurable or impactful value to the parties. For payers, while the economic windfall is attractive, oftentimes it is the access to real world evidence that can really drive the desire to collaborate. While COVID-19 has highlighted the immediate need for more digital and telehealth solutions, payers want to have a seat at these discussions to ask the best questions and drive the development of the best solutions.
Efficacy and engagement
The role of digital in today’s world should not be underestimated or understated. Stakeholders, including physicians and patients, are increasingly relying on digital solutions to manage their health and wellness. This has resulted in a landscape rife with opportunities for digital health developers. The most successful are those who do not see digital and tech as the solution, but rather as PART of the solution. Digital health can do a great deal, but its greatest value is seen when it can promote both efficacy and engagement. When looking to develop a digital health solution, it is imperative to ask two questions: “Will this help solve the problem when used?” and, more importantly, “Will people use it?” Success means working with physicians and patients to see what they need, what tool will help reach that need, and what will it take for the end user to want to use this the way it is meant to be used.
While we as an industry have recognized the challenges and difficulties in behavior modification, the rest of the world is seeing it unfold throughout the pandemic. Whether it is medication adherence or to follow the appropriate clinical care pathways, behavior change and establishing habits continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing our industry today. As digital and virtual tools become the standard and preferred methods of engagement, there is a growing opportunity for stakeholders to co-develop solutions that will help shape and “nudge” impactful behaviors and get them to stick.
This can be done in several different ways. One approach is passive behavior change, such as fluoride in the drinking water. People didn’t have to think about it, but the benefits were astounding. Another is by introducing competition. By employing “gamification” for patients or even employees, participation is more likely because it is “fun” and it keeps people engaged. Other examples include understanding motivations, either positive or negative, to keep people coming back. By listening to stakeholders and customers, more impactful solutions will own the nudge and drive measurable change.
COVID-19 has had a devastating impact that will be felt for years to come. However, during times of greatest challenge, we often see our greatest call to action and most impactful innovations. Organizations that are willing to collaborate, keep asking the right questions, and remain agile will succeed. By working together, stakeholders can ideate and advance digital and virtual solutions that address the right needs, are fit for purpose, and will garner the most impactful engagement and outcomes. Only through collaboration and compassionate understanding of each other’s needs will we be able to put innovation to the test and overcome our challenges.
The views reflected in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ernst & Young LLP or other members of the global EY organization.