The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted healthcare systems globally and posed challenges for disease management, medication access, and adherence. Before the pandemic, digital healthcare had been increasing in China to address healthcare access and primary care inefficiencies. With COVID-19 pushing China’s healthcare system to the brink, pharmaceutical companies had to quickly embrace digital solutions to continue providing life-saving care and medicines to patients, running clinical trials, and patient and physician engagement. Using COVID-19 and China as a case study, this project examines how Takeda can increase healthcare access through digital innovation and partnerships.
This doctoral project aimed to:
1. Explore how COVID-19 accelerated digital/technological innovation for health management and access in China.
2. Synthesize recommendations for Takeda on how to best utilize global partnerships and technology to increase healthcare access.
A mixed-methods approach was used in which quantitative data provided an overview of the epidemiological disease burden and healthcare access statistics in China, while qualitative data provided insights into Takeda’s digital health initiatives and opportunities for growth in China’s digital health ecosystem. Nineteen qualitative interviews were conducted. The ADKAR framework was used to conceptualize the results in the context of change management.
Cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, and diabetes are top causes of death in China and increase the risk of severe COVID morbidity and mortality. Accelerated by COVID, internet hospitals saw a marked increase in users and daily consultations and provided e-prescriptions, Direct-to-Patient drug delivery, and offline hospital referrals. The qualitative thematic analysis revealed eight themes: healthcare system disruption, China’s unique enabling environment, digital innovation type, cross-functional collaboration, data governance, therapeutic areas and assets, patient journey improvement, and digital innovation ethics.
Takeda can increase healthcare access through digital innovation and partnerships through: 1) alignment of China’s disease burden with Takeda’s priority areas that better informs innovative digital solutions; 2) increased collaboration with key stakeholders (big tech companies, biotech startups, academia, HCPs, hospitals, and local governments); and 3) outreach to least resourced areas of China with pilots (e.g., rural areas with fewer than the average 1.96 physicians per 1,000 population, such as Guangxi, Anhui, Jiangxi, and Henan).||