Digital Transformation in Healthcare: 2020 Highlights

Our new research shows just how seriously healthcare companies are taking their tech-led evolution.

Heading into 2020, healthcare was already largely behind other industries in digital transformation.  Yes, there have been a wide array of fast-growing digitally native healthcare companies such as Livongo, Teladoc Health and Pillpack (owned by Amazon); however, few healthcare companies founded before the digital age have embraced a holistic digital transformation agenda. You might find pockets of digital strategies at life sciences companies and payers, but as you look at healthcare providers – particularly publicly traded ones –it’s rare to see the word “digital” mentioned in prominent investor communications. This was largely verified in our annual report, The 2020 State of Digital Transformation, where 63 percent of respondents in healthcare responded that “Our executives personally and consistently make digital transformation one of their top three strategic priorities,” which was 17 percent lower than the non-healthcare average at 80 percent.

Healthcare highlights from the 2020 State of Digital Transformation report.

Healthcare was already behind on the digital transformation curve before COVID-19

One might think that an economic downturn driven by a healthcare issue would position healthcare organizations to navigate the situation more easily. On the clinical side, and in most geographies, they have. But, on the business side, healthcare companies were not nearly as prepared as other industries, with 62 percent of healthcare respondents feeling that their organizational culture was somewhat prepared or very prepared to manage the COVID-19 crisis, compared to 73 percent of non-healthcare respondents. Additionally, 51 percent of healthcare respondents stated that they are less than twelve months into their digital transformation, while only 40% of non-healthcare respondents were in the beginning phases of their digital transformations.

Healthcare is ahead of the curve in using digital technologies

Thirty-four percent of healthcare respondents claim that they are sourcing Insights from data and intelligent technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to the non-healthcare average at 25 percent. This likely stems from a range of solutions that were put in place before and during the pandemic, from fully integrating vital signs monitoring and EMR systems with Hillrom’s latest connected vital signs monitor to Medtronic Care Management Services extending into a virtual assistant to evaluate patients to the MMRF’s CureCloud – an at-home testing kit and digital dashboard. Life sciences companies are committed to launching new smart solutions to accelerate data and insights generation while providing a better patient experience and keeping healthcare workers safe.

“If a patient’s primary care office, specialist and hospital are owned by the same system but have different EMRs, they still have different MyChart logins — creating a fragmented customer journey.”

There is a need to move beyond digital point solutions to a cohesive digital experience

While there are arguably thousands of digital solutions, they are rarely strategically sewn together to create an improved customer experience – whether focusing on the patient within a health system or a prescriber for a pharmaceutical company. Too much digital spend in healthcare is happening at the business or department level. This approach is why you see a proliferation of apps, websites, portals, etc. There are very few traditional healthcare organizations managing the digital experience from the C-suite, leading the majority of healthcare respondents to believe they are not currently offered a seamless customer experience. Health systems are frequently guilty of this, requiring a patient to have a unique MyChart ID for each of its EMR systems. If a patient’s primary care office, specialist and hospital are owned by the same system but have different EMRs, they still have different MyChart logins — creating a fragmented customer journey.

There is an opportunity to improve digital selling

More healthcare respondents, over double the non-healthcare average, reported significant gaps in their organization’s ability to conduct sales digitally. While most non-healthcare respondents (86%) have an e-commerce presence where they can sell directly to customers, only 60 percent of healthcare respondents reported that capability.

In the B2B space, many healthcare organizations have been frantically trying to find ways to digitize their selling efforts. Sales teams have been caught flat-footed after years of poor CRM management, little use of social selling and minimal content development beyond product brochures. GE Healthcare has shown up, from its Mikey Kay series to Jeff Terry, the CEO of GE’s Command Center, demonstrating the value of its data via COVID-19 updates, creating both new demand and strengthening relationships of existing customers.


The 2020 State of Digital Transformation report emphasized healthcare’s notorious reputation as “slow to innovate.” In the span of a month, health systems went from a dozen virtual care visits a week to thousands. So, why did it take a pandemic to drive healthcare’s digital transformation? The most frequent answer is a lack of motivation and belief. In the coming months, it will be exciting to watch which healthcare companies take this newfound motivation to not only catch-up to other industries in their digital transformation but to perhaps even surpass them.

Talk to our healthcare team today to learn how we help our clients accelerate their digital transformation that drives business growth.