The vast majority of healthcare industry professionals indicate that the Covid-19 pandemic has had the greatest impact on digital transformation in the healthcare industry, compared to other macro events, during recent years. Most of those respondents also believe that the pandemic had a positive impact on digital transformation as it accelerated the process.

According to GlobalData’s report “Thematic Intelligence: Digital Transformation and Emerging Technologies in the Healthcare Industry 2023 Edition“, 71% of surveyed healthcare industry professionals believed that the Covid-19 pandemic had been the most impactful event on digital transformation in the healthcare sector in recent years; the result suggested the same finding across all surveyed regions in which respondents’ organisations operate (Figure 1).

More than 80% also stated that the pandemic speeded up the digitalisation process. This result was coherent across all geographies (Figure 2).

During the past few years, several macro events have re-shaped the business environment of the healthcare industry. These events have brought challenges and hindrances which have included supply-demand imbalance, disruption in logistics and rising costs, Among all influential episodes, the pandemic was undoubtedly the most impactful.

The pandemic was an unprecedented global event that introduced several never-before-experienced obstructions such as restriction of movement, a halt in logistics and reduced business activities. Being exposed to these uncertainties, pharmaceutical companies had to adjust their operations, investment strategies and profit growth projections. While some pharma businesses were cautious and conservative about embracing digital transformation to enhance their operations during these times, others believed that innovative technologies were important for their businesses to remain competitive and resilient, and the pandemic acted as a catalyst for their digitalisation progress.

Advantages and benefits brought by emerging technologies during the pandemic period have been gaining more and more attention. Decentralising or virtualising clinical trials, for example, prevented drug development progress from a complete stop; the adoption of telemedicine provided convenience to both healthcare professionals and patients; wearable technologies assisted in measuring and monitoring while clinicians and patients could not travel as normal. The ability of these innovative technologies to collect real-time data also contributed to a higher uptake of other technologies ranging from cloud computing to big data and artificial intelligence (AI).

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The continually growing successful cases of emerging technology use, in both pharmaceutical and clinical sides, serve as agonists to stakeholders in the industry, paving a path of confidence for healthcare organisations to enter a digital era.