Will digital show an ROI for healthcare?

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Crystal Yednak Senior Manager, Health Research Institute, PwC US February 18, 2020


As the US health industry works to catch up to the rest of the digital economy, the question for 2020 will be whether this digital transformation will benefit consumers—marking a new dawn for the US health industry and for the people whose lives depend on it. 

There are a lot of questions to be answered in 2020. How much will consumer experience change as receptionists no longer hand them clipboards of forms to fill out? Will physicians, now aided by data-driven insights, make better diagnoses and write better prescriptions? Will the stream of new drugs coming to market swell thanks to faster, more efficient clinical trials and regulatory reviews? Will insurers provide consumers with choices that are better for their wallets and good for their health? 

The health industry is betting that digital transformation will make the difference in delivery and cost. The health industry’s appetite for data has grown beyond medical histories. It is collecting genetic information, consumer purchasing habits and financial histories. It is digesting claims. It is consuming tweets and message board posts. It is counting calories, steps, fertility cycles and how often we toss and turn at night. The US health industry is binging on data. Digital health apps are multiplying, but what to do with the data they are generating? 

Many health organizations have yet to truly benefit from their digital investments. Of payer and provider executives surveyed by PwC in 2018, 38% said their organizations have not incorporated digital into their corporate strategies. Many told PwC that they still do not see digital efforts paying off in a meaningful way. Just 21% of healthcare companies employ a chief digital officer, compared with 32% of banking firms and 41% of insurance companies, according to a study by PwC. Despite the exuberance over data, challenges abound.

Asked to name barriers to monetizing their organization’s data, executives across industries surveyed by PwC cited poor data reliability, issues with data protection and privacy regulations, the inability to adequately protect and secure information, and a lack of analytical talent. Healthcare executives told HRI that they are focused on finding more effective ways to use the data they are collecting. Asked about workforce strategies for 2020, executives repeatedly pointed to digital upskilling and emerging technologies.   


For HRI’s Top health industry issues 2020 report, healthcare executives told HRI they are asking tough questions about generating returns on their organizations' significant investments in digital technology and data. Progress is being made, they said, but will it be enough to justify these investments in time and money? How will the upcoming year's economic, political and regulatory uncertainty impact their organizations' efforts?

In 2020, the US health system will continue its long journey toward digitalization amid calls for bold changes from the presidential campaign trail and warnings of a recession, both in the US and abroad.


For citations, implications and insights, please read our full report, Top health industry issues of 2020: Will digital start to show an ROI?

For more of HRI’s insights and content, visit our Regulatory Center and report library.

Contact us

Trine K. Tsouderos

HRI Regulatory Center Leader, PwC US

Tel: +1 (312) 241 3824

Crystal Yednak

Senior Manager, Health Research Institute, PwC US

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