The digital transformation of healthcare has been progressing at pace since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic; but in the midst of rapid innovation, earning the trust of consumers is still vital.

What lies on the horizon for healthcare in 2021?

After a year in which remote healthcare technology, or telemedicine, saw rapid and widespread uptake as a means of treating patients safely during a pandemic, the healthcare sector has made huge gains in terms of digital maturity. At the same time, there are still obstacles in the way of its transformation.

While healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients alike have been willing to adopt health tech during the Covid-19 pandemic out of necessity, whether this pace of transformation will continue beyond the pandemic depends heavily on trust. Not just trust in the effectiveness of telemedicine, but trust that technology providers can be relied upon to safely and respectfully process health data, which is a uniquely sensitive category of data.

“Healthcare is going to be a fascinating sector to watch in 2021 from a digital, data and technology perspective,” says George Harris, Chief Product Officer and former Analytics & Technology Director at London and Dallas-based performance marketing agency Three Whiskey, which works with healthcare and pharma clients such as Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Texas Healthcare Resources and Avantor. “We’ve seen lengthy healthcare digital transformation programmes being cut in half during 2020. We’re at quite a pivotal time, really, given the rapid investment that has taken place.”

A data and product specialist with more than 15 years’ experience in digital and tech, Harris is keenly interested in the digital transformation of healthcare and the role being played by data. He predicts that in 2021 we will see healthcare organisations focus intensely on scaling, optimising and measuring their services – but “trust remains the arbiter of data systems and is a precious commodity. The rush to solve the global pandemic using data and technology is placing great pressure on the foundation of trust as we go into 2021.”

I spoke to Harris about how healthcare organisations should approach data in the midst of this “pivotal time”, how they can demonstrate trustworthiness with consumers’ most confidential information, and what other obstacles lie ahead when it comes to data and innovation – as well as why he is confident that telemedicine will have staying power even after the threat of Covid-19 has subsided.

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