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Digital Transformation and the Rise of AI in the European Healthcare Industry

Over the past 18 months, we have been fortunate enough to operate within a sector that is still lucrative despite the global adversity we’ve all faced.

The healthcare and medical device industry are undergoing a period of digital transformation, underpinned by the increase in artificial intelligence (AI). In the first of our ongoing series exploring trends in the industry, let’s take a look at how this digital transformation and, in particular, AI are impacting the healthcare and medical device fields.


Digital Transformation

Covid-19 undoubtedly gave the digital transformation movement a big push, with many companies looking to go completely digital. Coupled up with a European commitment made in 2016 to make citizens’ health data more accessible and digitalised (instead of having it on paper) is why we’re seeing such a significant shift. Covid-19 shortened the timelines, but this is ultimately a win for the industry as we’re moving toward more modern and accessible capabilities.

Currently, Denmark, Spain, and the United Kingdom look to be the most ahead when it comes to digital transformation and its acceptance in the healthcare and medical device industries. Surprisingly, countries like Germany and Switzerland, who normally lead the field when it comes to the Medical Device market, have a ways to go in terms of their developments but they’re pushing harder than ever to keep up with all the industry changes–ultimately moving the regions in the right direction.

In the public sector, specifically in the UK, hospital digitalisation is on the rise, with many switching to online platforms and database systems so healthcare data can be shared with ease while still keeping patient confidentiality a priority. Software providers are playing a big part in making this possible.

Although hospitals are still in a transformative period, it’s likely that there will soon be multiple ways for hospitals to communicate across different software programs and platforms, which will make things even easier for providers and patients alike. In that same vein, NHSX recently published new digital guidelines, which will equip employees within trusts and hospitals to use new technologies to their advantage.


Artificial Intelligence

A major trend within the digital transformation movement is Artificial Intelligence (AI). I recently ran a poll asking what people thought was the biggest trend in the medical device industry right now, and it should come as no surprise that more than half voted for AI! At Planet Pharma, we have seen this to be true and have personally seen growth in automation, R&D and drug discovery.

While AI is already pushing into the Pharma world, especially when it comes to Drug Discovery, it still has to gain full visibility in the Medical Devices market. Digging deeper, an article by Analytics Insight highlighted the top four emerging applications of AI within Medical Devices, which are:

  • Diabetes management
  • Medical imaging
  • Wearable technology (tracking blood pressure or monitoring critical healthcare conditions)
  • Future focus, centred around automation and improving not only patients’ quality of life, but supporting healthcare professionals in achieving better accuracy in their day-to-day work


How does all of this impact recruitment?

With the Life Science market becoming more and more tech savvy and tech-dependent, the required skillsets have shifted focus. Not only are existing, more “traditional” companies in need of talent that enables them to digitalise, but there is also a new generation of healthcare IT companies that revolve around software. This new generation of companies is disrupting the market with a totally different outlook: while they address and offer medical or healthcare services/products, they are built more like tech companies – similar to Google, Amazon, or Apple.

Although positively impacting the industry as a whole, these trends will naturally shift attention to building out stronger technical teams over the traditional commercial teams. With IT and tech talent already being in high demand, this additional need makes the war on talent even more competitive. For example, developers with medical device industry knowledge, as rare as they are, are spoilt for choice with career opportunities.

At the same time, we’re seeing an influx of tech talent moving from other industries over to the healthcare and medical device fields. Those who are making the move are doing so not only because of the ample salaries but also because of the purpose-driven and patient-centric nature of the industry, which simply isn’t the case for many other sectors.

From a client perspective, considering talent from other industries is a great opportunity to broaden your candidate pool, especially since many of the skills are transferable. Freelance talent is also something to consider, as Covid-19 demonstrated what can be achieved even when working remotely.

Speaking of remote work – now that we know it’s a viable option, remote work is a great way to empower employees and prospective candidates to choose new opportunities that might not otherwise be available to them. It’s also highly beneficial to employers who are looking for talent with rare skillsets that might not live locally.

With the new generation of healthcare IT companies considering themselves tech-based, they are looking at the likes of Google and other big corporate tech firms for inspiration on how to gain and retain employees with better pay, benefits, and a more engaging culture. This different view and structure also put them directly into competition with the more “traditional” Life Sciences companies, who are now challenged to rethink their employee engagement.

We are always open to having conversations with candidates and clients about these trends, and how they can positively impact career progression or a wider recruitment strategy!

Photo Credit: Canva

By Lea Seitz, Business Development Associate, Planet Pharma EU

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