The 2017 Digital Trends in Healthcare and Pharma report reveals a sector that has just started to embark on its digital transformation journey, but with a huge potential for disruption through emerging digital technologies.

After a slow start due to the complexities of a siloed sector with legacy infrastructure, alongside heavy regulation and risks associated with patient data and care, healthcare and pharma companies are likely to see exponential change over the next few years as digital data storage and sharing becomes the norm.

The research, conducted by Econsultancy in partnership with Adobe, is based on a sample of almost 500 respondents working in the healthcare and pharma sector who were among more than 14,000 digital professionals taking part in the seventh annual Digital Trends survey, carried out in November and December 2016.

The following sections are featured in the report:

  • A sector ripe for digital disruption
  • Shifting control results in a focus on the customer
  • The future looks more promising than ever
  • Actionable tips to help future-proof your healthcare/pharma business

Findings include:

  • The healthcare and pharma sector lags behind others in terms of digital maturity. Strict regulations and a lack of universal standards mean that new entrants find it harder to establish themselves, and levels of risk associated with human health are greater, which can limit innovation. Only 6% of companies describe themselves as digital-first, compared to an average of 11% across other sectors.
  • Healthcare and pharma companies are 14% more likely than their peers in other sectors to consider customer journey management as a top-three tactical priority in 2017, with larger organisations even more likely to prioritise multichannel campaigns and journeys, and also to join up online and offline data.
  • The boom in wearables that collect lifestyle and fitness data is of huge benefit to an industry whose wealth of existing data is often locked up by regulation or in non-digitised formats. Two-thirds of healthcare and pharma companies see improving data analysis capabilities as ‘very important’ for the coming year, reflecting the need for skilled staff to collect, distil and analyse this data influx.
  • Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are being incorporated into new healthcare technologies and systems, with uses ranging from training doctors in operating techniques to gamifying patient treatment plans. Over a quarter (26%) of respondents see the potential in VR and AR as the most exciting prospect for 2020.


Econsultancy’s Digital Intelligence Briefings, sponsored by Adobe, look at some of the most important trends affecting the marketing landscape.