I recently published my thoughts on driving digital transformation in healthcare on the CDOClub “5 Ways Chief Digital Officers Can Drive Digital Transformation in Healthcare”. Considering how easy it has become to drive innovation and disrupt traditional categories with new immersive ideas, it is shocking to see how far behind a multi-trillion dollar industry like healthcare is. BUT it is changing. And like may other verticals, this change too is being driven by the CONSUMER. Take a read:

It’s staggering to see the pace at which digital technology is changing the traditional and highly regulated world of health care.From massive health systems with weeks-long waits for an appointment to a world of wearable, sensors, telemedicine, genomics and mobile apps that provide convenience and care where consumers are, at a time, location and touch point of their choice. It’s modern health care that focuses on health and wellness, rather than sickness and treatment.

The ability to receive digital treatment, find a doctor and make an appointment with a mobile device or use sensors to remotely monitor a relative’s movement has taken less than a decade to achieve. Despite regulations and a fragmented ecosystem, the trifecta of data, content and technology conspired to make all of this happen.

But this evolution is not without the struggle to meet the growing consumer needs and expectations. Most health systems and pharmaceutical brands still grapple with the growing number of channels and touch points. At the same time, consumer expectations have evolved to a channel agnostic and consumer-centric view; demanding nothing less than omni-channel experiences. While the former largely revolves around the channel, the latter is largely consumer driven.

With this mindset shift, health care joins many other industries in its quest to deliver experiences that will drive behavioral change. Most however are still struggling to deploy these omni-channel strategies at scale for a simple reason – we are all operating on top of an increasingly broken and fragmented ecosystem that is either channel or technology focused and not channel agnostic or consumer centric.

The shift requires fundamental change that is part of what I call the “first principles of an omni-channel strategy“.

Driving Health Care Convergence

There is a need to break the silos and bridge the fragments across the broader ecosystem, as well as within health care organizations. Healthcare is arguably one of the most fragmented industries because the entire experience is isolated across health systems, hospitals, providers, pharma and payers.

The need for convergence exists at the macro level, within these independent entities that from a consumer standpoint should be rather connected under a single umbrella because everything contributes to an individual’s care. At the same time, each organization needs to break the silos across finance, strategy, technology, operations and, now very importantly, marketing, a growing vertical within health care. There is a sub-micro level of convergence that will be also needed as marketing grows its influence. This vision of a e challenge to establishing a connected healthcare marketing ecosystem include requires converging convergence across data, technology, data silos andcommunication as well as convergence within skills of the modern marketer as well as the operating models. I call these the 5Cs of Modern Marketing, a concept I recently shared with Vala Afshar (

A Unified Data Strategy For A Universal Health Context And Profile

Perhaps the biggest catalyst behind the health care evolution is the rise of connected health care data. It encapsulates everything from clinical and biometrics data to behavioral and financial data.

But more than the volume, variety and velocity of this data it is the need to connect the dots and converge across these silos. Health systems need a connected data strategy that drives data harmonization and convergence because data is the linchpin that stitches together the consumer’s journey.

The challenge and opportunity are found in data mastering and matching abilities, tying offline data to online behaviors and connecting medical and clinical data with non-medical behavioral and demographic information to infer and predict health behavior and conditions. Organizations that are able to master this science and connect this data science to the art of communication will inspire action and participation, building brand loyalty and maximizing lifetime value.

Content And Communication Strategy

There is no doubt that communication is the next horizon of innovation in healthcare. There is no better place than health care to leverage context-driven content that changes consumer behavior and drives participation to improve individuals’ health.

The cliché, “right message to the right person at the right time,” could not be more appropriate. The ability to leverage a consumer’s context to predict future health conditions, while inspiring and influencing every piece of communication that drives action just at the right time, is the ultimate milestone.

Brands need to develop a content strategy and framework that is channel agnostic and driven by consumer behavior and behavioral segmentsinflection points through the journey. Once marketers have the this data and insight driven content strategy defined, they need the ability to syndicate, and distribute, measure and optimize the content seamlessly across channels where consumers use a connected marketing technology and communication ecosystem. ver the consumer may be in an “always-on” way, breaking the traditional mindset of time bound push campaigns.

Together with data and marketing technology, content is the linchpin for enabling these always-on omnichannel consumer experiences, for these are the only components of the ecosystem the capabilities that are channel agnostic.

Connected Planning Using Content, Data And Technology

 Health care companies must establish a planning process that inspires data-driven marketing that connects content, data and technology with a central focus on the consumer.

It’s breaking away from a multichannel planning construct that is channel driven to basing plans and strategies on data and consumer insights, which are used to determine the right content across the consumer journey, especially focusing on inflection points required for consumer behavior change. That may include content that is planned against non-adherence to medical advice as a behavior or content that may address stigma or fear.

Consumer Obsession

 Most importantly, there must be a fundamental mindset shift from mobile-first and channel-first to human first. It’s a shift from technology and channel obsession to consumer obsession. I was once told by a C-suite health system executive that we cannot think about health care experiences in the same way as retail or finance because the focus here should be about clinical result and outcome and not convenience or the broader consumer experience. After all providing care services is not the same as selling groceries, clothes or other daily product.

I couldn’t disagree more. The health care industry needs to be as much about consumer experience, convenience and cost as clinical results and outcomes. As it’s evident from the Ubers and AirBNBs of the world, it’s not the technology but the consumer experience and the subsequent mass adoption that ultimately disrupts and redefines the category. She is getting used to these seamless experiences in a complex digital world and does not see Healthcare any differently.

Ironically enough, while most industries including health care talk about omnichannel consumer experiences, the only part of the ecosystem that is truly operating and behaving in an omnichannel way is the consumer. Everyone else is multichannel at best. These core principles may not be all one needs to become omnichannel, but these are certainly fundamental when embarking on the journey. Otherwise, omnichannel will continue to be an abstract theory.

In many ways the health care evolution is the same movie played over and over again. The key is to learn from the mistakes made by the other industries and get to the same spot but with more efficiency, effectiveness and speed.