More than half of PE-backed traditional healthcare providers have yet to reap digital transformation rewards

Over 50 per cent of healthcare businesses in the UK have yet to reap the rewards of digital transformation, according to a new report from Equator.

The Healthcare industry digital wellness report 20/21 surveyed 20 private equity-backed healthcare businesses to uncover the digital maturity of the sector, with digitisation critical in the post-pandemic landscape.
 
Private equity firms invested over GBP140 billion across 1,227 healthcare deals in 2019, with the sector now accounting for 14 per cent of total deal value. Covid-19 had an impact on deal activity in 2020, but over the last three quarters, healthcare has been the highest demand sector for digital due diligence, advisory and transformation services for Equator.
 
The report includes detailed reviews of twenty healthcare businesses which have seen a PE-backed buyout, or significant growth funding over the last three years.
 
Over a third (40 per cent) of websites reviewed in the report can benefit from using human-centred design principles to accommodate evolving preferences and expectations. Smart tools, such as chatbots and AI, can help businesses operate more efficiently and adapt faster. Out of the 20 businesses surveyed, none currently power their interactions or enhance their overall customer experience in this way.
 
Healthcare businesses are also missing an opportunity to improve patient experience, crucial to acquiring and retaining customers. From using digital technology to remove paperwork, investing in digital appointment-making solutions, or using Machine Learning and AI to support carers in their daily work, healthcare businesses have a long way to go in delivering market standout service.
 
The research found that in healthcare a staggering 85 per cent of website platforms used are inappropriate for scaling or acquisitive businesses. Moreover, only a quarter (25 per cent) feature eCommerce or omnichannel sales, with the majority of websites reviewed serving only ‘brochureware’ experiences. The businesses also showed little or no consideration for effective activity tracking. The lack of enterprise CMS also meant that only a mere 10 per cent of websites surveyed perform well on mobile.
 
The problems are not all technical though. While the majority of businesses have a content strategy, nearly all suffered from low engagement, failing to connect the dots across owned, paid and earned media platforms.
 
Garry Hamilton, Chief Growth Officer at Equator, says: “Healthcare businesses need to move towards personalisation models and deliver consistent and engaging experiences at each stage of the journey. They need to prioritise investment in contemporary systems and smart tools to offer a world-class patient and user-service experience. A digital assessment and 24-36 month strategy is crucial for healthcare portfolio businesses when thinking about an exit and demonstrating the potential for additional future value creation and high return on investment opportunities for current or future backers.”
 

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