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April 20, 2017
A new approach to quantifying digital value
By: Ken Munie

Our research shows that leading health ecosystem participants are applying a new approach—a Digital Potential Analysis—to assess the dollar value of the economic potential of digital health assets on the prevention or early diagnosis, intervention and monitoring of specific therapeutic areas. By examining how digital assets can affect or influence value through a healthcare system and therapeutic lens, life sciences companies can make more strategic investment decisions that help improve patient outcomes, business performance and competitive advantage.

Assessing value the old way
Historically, manufacturers involved in the healthcare ecosystem—from pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device manufacturers and distributors, to health and diagnostic service providers, and even venture capitalists looking to fund the next health breakthrough—have not had an effective way to measure the value of digital assets on patient outcomes or disease cost burdens. Instead, they’ve focused on and based their digital investment decisions on:

  • Internal measures of performance

  • Hunches or industry benchmarks

  • Other lagging indicators

Companies using these internal measures might keep up with their industry peers, but they miss out on the digital investment opportunities that will deliver meaningful returns—for patients, as well as the business.

Assessing value the new way
A better way is to quantify the economic impact of digital assets within the health system, an approach that enables life sciences companies to estimate the dollar value of digital assets in specific therapeutic areas across three dimensions of the patient journey:

  1. Prevention/early diagnosis

  2. Intervention

  3. Monitoring

By assessing digital opportunities and avoidable costs through a therapeutic area lens (rather than an operational lens), companies can identify hidden pockets of value they have likely overlooked. With these insights, they can define a value-creation strategy, based on a differentiated portfolio of digital assets.

Areas of potential value
Using this new approach, our Accenture Strategy team analyzed digital’s impact on six therapeutic areas: Diabetes, Congestive Heart Failure, Alzheimer’s Disease, HIV, Breast Cancer and Multiple Myeloma. Our results revealed a $108 billion long-term economic value opportunity.

We also created a more conservative, risk-adjusted estimate based on the demonstrated maturity of the asset (similar to a traditional therapeutic in development). Asset risk was categorized as low, medium or high based on level of proof of concept, study and demonstrated maturity of the asset. Even when adjusted for risk, there is a $60 billion economic value opportunity that translates to $49,866 per patient and $24,184 per patient when adjusting for risk.

Accenture Digital Potential Analysis

Clearly, investment risks will differ by therapeutic area. Our analyses suggest that applying digital assets to large-population, chronic diseases such as diabetes comes with relatively little risk because investments can focus on strengthening proven methods of prevention/early diagnosis, intervention and monitoring. By contrast, digital assets for Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer are not as mature. Companies targeting these therapeutic areas will find it more challenging to generate optimal returns, since these conditions call for investments in new and innovative solutions.

We also found that the highest-impact digital opportunities often lie outside the chronic, high-prevalence diseases that receive the most investment attention. Our analyses showed that 50 percent of system costs can be prevented by targeting investments to rarer, specialized disease states with lower prevalence. That may come as a big surprise to companies that have routinely assumed that focusing on solutions tailored to the largest diseases will generate the greatest returns.

For life sciences companies, this approach provides valuable new insights into the potential value of digital healthcare technology investments.

In our next post, we’ll examine ways to discover hidden pockets of digital value.

To learn more, download: Digital Affectability: A therapeutic lens on disease

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