Digital health ecosystems: Voices of key healthcare leaders

COVID-19 has made it more pressing than ever to integrate online and offline offerings and to establish integrated health ecosystems. We asked key healthcare leaders about their views to make this change happen.

Amid the disruption of traditional medical care caused by COVID-19, some patients have found assistance via new online services, including digital bill submission, medical assistance, online teleconsultations, and online medications. Perhaps for the first time, these patients found themselves part of digital health ecosystems, which are networks of digital service providers that offer a single solution for users’ healthcare needs (see sidebar “Existing digital health ecosystems”).

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Two recent McKinsey articles—“The next wave of healthcare innovation: The evolution of ecosystems” and “Digital health ecosystems: A payer perspective”—highlight the importance and potential of evolving digital health ecosystems, particularly for healthcare stakeholders. Questions remain, however, about the roles of different healthcare players, because they can differ significantly depending on each player’s market, strategy, customer base, and position in the value chain.

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This article analyzes data from an interview series with 22 key international industry experts, as well as with 81 participants of our ninth Digital Healthcare Roundtable, to explore the following three themes: why and when healthcare players seek to provide digital healthcare solutions, what kind of digital health ecosystem healthcare players should provide, and how the implementation of a digital health ecosystem should be approached.

1. Why and when do healthcare players seek to provide digital healthcare solutions?

2. What kind of digital health ecosystem should healthcare players provide?

3. How should the implementation of a digital health ecosystem be approached?


Digital health ecosystems are more likely to succeed if players can identify their individual contributions and create their own road maps. Doing so depends on a number of factors, including size, business model, cultural fit, capabilities, experience, existing partnerships, and regulations specific to certain countries. Considering that all the respondents to our survey predict that digital health ecosystems will evolve in the next three years—or even within this year—it’s clear that players should move quickly to reflect on their position in the status quo and to determine the strengths of their roles in the digital healthcare landscape.

Do you want your voice to be heard? Share your views on digital health ecosystems by answering our digital health ecosystem survey on McKinsey.com and receive an analysis of how your views compare with those of your peers.

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