Environmental Forces and Trends

Introduction

Organizations in the twenty-first century are working in a volatile and dynamic market than ever before due to the continuous change of forces in the external environment. There has been an increased need for business leaders to review their business models and visions due to disruptive technologies, legal structures, government policies like monetary and fiscal policies, increased competition due to minimal barriers of entry, and change of weather patterns due to climate change. Marketing managers have to assess periodically the effectiveness of their strategies in order to survive or suppress the effects of external actors. One of the ways of detecting and responding to changes in the work environment is conducting a SWOT analysis and PESTLE analysis, which provide insights on how factors in the external and internal environment are affecting consumption of their goods and services (Shabanova et al., 2015). The health sector too is subject to disruptive forces following the rise in health facilities. According to the Frith (2013), increase in private health facilities is meant to encourage better management, leaner and efficient service provision, responsiveness to local needs, and innovativeness due to competition hence improving patient care. This paper addresses the technological forces affecting our health organization (Impact Healthcare). We also determine how SWOT analysis will be of help in addressing the threats and weaknesses using the inherent opportunities and strengths. The success of any organization in the digital world is determined on how well they respond with strategic measures to reap the benefits and dilute the demerits of digitalization.

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Technological Disruptions

The digital revolution and technological innovations are making tangible differences in goods and service industries. Customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, cost reduction efficiency, and effectiveness in service delivery is one of the merits that accrue to firms adopting the changes in technology. The revolutions are taking place at an accelerated pace that even the health sector cannot shun it, as it affects their competitiveness in service delivery. Technological innovations in health care are geared toward making life better and comfortable by facilitating improvement towards greater life expectancy. Life expectancy is one of the indicators of a strong health sector and welfare situation in a country. Digital revolution is becoming a cornerstone in reducing healthcare expenses for both operators and patients due to better and effective means of gathering information, which is structured to give automated responses. Some of the digital transformations in health care include cloud computing, telemedicine, artificial intelligence, wearables, and robotics.

 Cloud Computing in Healthcare

The practice of cloud computing involves the use of remote servers to store and manage data (Wubben et al., 2014). The cloud technology is increasing consultation services due to virtual doctor-patient consultation. Patients do not have to pass through the long, time wasting, and exhaustive queues when accessing their test results. Doctors can store patient’s information over the cloud where patients can access it using their portals. The operations in cloud computing are less complicated and more reliable than the local servers. Cloud computing saves a lot in terms of finances as there is no need to hire technical support teams to fix server glitches and it does not need regular upgrades as compared to traditional servers. Capital investments are less, as there are no regular payments and hardware upgrades. Payments are made once a month for data storage. In a health facility, cloud computing increases collaboration among team members as it allows file sharing. This feature allows team members to share information regardless of distance. Cloud computing helps in situations where one forgets important files at home or at the workplace. One needs an internet connection to access the cloud, which is always on to get all their data hence saving time in case of forgotten files. The technology helps workers to balance their work-life by allowing them to work from anywhere including their homes due to increased collaboration. Natural disasters and hardware meltdown cannot affect data on cloud servers implying that cloud computing offers more security than local servers.

Telemedicine in Healthcare

Telemedicine involves the application of information technology and telecommunication devices in healthcare to address health issues of patients in distant physical locations. The technology is breaking the accessibility barrier to patients, especially in remote rural areas where transport infrastructure is ill-developed. The technology is also saving lives in cases of emergency where time to access treatment is at stake. Telemedicine reduces the spread of communicable diseases between the patient, health workers, and the public. The technology allows confidential and convenient communication between patient and medical workers, especially for patients with mental problems who need constant care. According to Norris (2001), telemedicine is enabling provision of health care among the traveling communities, as it is possible to fall ill when in transit. The aging communities who feel uncomfortable with constant travels can also have their health checked at the comfort of their houses, a factor that has led to the marketing of health care internationally. Telecommunications infrastructure and standards affect the efficiency of telemedicine especially in rural areas, as a strong bandwidth is required to link the patient and the health worker, as well as, compatibility issues in case of services beyond national boundaries due to protocols of transmission. 

Artificial Intelligence in the Healthcare Sector

  Artificial intelligence in healthcare involves the use of algorithms and software in the analysis of medical data and derives conclusions with less direct human intervention (Hamet & Tremblay, 2017). The AI technology makes logic from a behavior pattern with a reduced error margin. The technology helps in analyzing techniques resourceful in the prevention and treatment of diseases. The application is being used in drug development and diagnosis processes.

  Wearables in Healthcare

The wearable’s technology is allowing patients and the public to minimize health risks like heart failure, stroke, or obesity by providing easy means to check on their blood pressure and weight without visiting health facilities.  The do it yourself initiative has been enhanced by smartphones where automation of the health sector allows automatic feedback for patients to access the right weight, sugar, or pulse.

 Robots in Healthcare

Robots are set to replace humans in services like delivery of medications, food, and drug supplements, as well as, helping in surgeries hence reducing operational costs and accuracy in health services.

SWOT Analysis

  SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats facing or inherent in an organization. Strengths and weakness are inherent in the internal environment while opportunities and threats are external forces. SWOT analysis seeks to help our marketing strategic objectives by analyzing the rewards and risks emanating from technological and digital revolutions.

Strengths

Strengths are positive internal factors that can be controlled in the organization. They include capabilities and resources useful in developing a competitive advantage. Strengths in our organization include an inclusive diversity, which will reduce networking challenges as we seek to expand in the region using telemedicine, cultural connections emanating from our diversity, which eases our marketing strategies, an extraordinary reputation in patient care and laboratory operations. We also take pride in our specialized expertise in lab, cardiology, and Otorhinolaryngology (ENT) doctors, and a chief digital officer (CDO).

Weaknesses

Weaknesses are areas that we need to improve. Our weaknesses include poor geographical setting challenged by underdeveloped road infrastructure, which disconnects us from the urban patients.

Opportunities 

The aging population is one of the opportunities we have by addressing their health issues using telemedicine, which is the new technology. The aging population will be our new market segment to boost our profits. We are lacking dominant competition in the region due to our specialized services in heart, eye, nose, and throat diseases

Threats

There is an imminent threat of increased competition as the government is planning to develop road transport and open up our geographical setup. The digital revolution might bring more competitors in our remote area through telemedicine.

 SWOT analysis reveals our strength in information technology by the virtue of having a Chief Digital Officer who will be resourceful in transforming our operations into telemedicine hence reduce threats posed by the digital revolution and the invasion by other competitors in rural areas. We also have the opportunity to increase our profits by reaching out to the aged population, which is a new market segment using telemedicine.

SWOT Analysis for Impact Healthcare

StrengthsSpecialized staffInclusive diversity and cultural connectionExtra-ordinary reputationWeaknesses  Remote geographical location                                                
OpportunitiesLack of dominant competitionNew market segment (aging population)Threats Digital revolutionIncrease in competition due to the development of transport infrastructure.

Conclusion

The business environment is full of positive and negative forces where some are under the control of management while others are beyond their control. The best way of dealing with environmental forces is through regular environmental scans. Scanning is best done using SWOT analysis, which enables the management to strategize its marketing plan by diluting the effects of threats and weaknesses and by capitalizing on inherent strengths and opportunities.

References

Frith, L. (2013). The NHS and market forces in healthcare: the need for organizational ethics. Journal of medical ethics, 39(1), 17-21.

Hamet, P., & Tremblay, J. (2017). Artificial intelligence in medicine. Metabolism, 69, S36-S40.

Norris, A. C. (2001). The strategic support of telemedicine and telecare. Health Informatics Journal, 7(2), 81-89.

Shabanova, L. B., Ismagilova, G. N., Salimov, L. N., & Akhmadeev, M. G. (2015). PEST-Analysis and SWOT-Analysis as the most important tools to strengthen the competitive advantages of commercial enterprises. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 6(3), 705.Wubben, D., Rost, P., Bartelt, J. S., Lalam, M., Savin, V., Gorgoglione, M., … & Fettweis, G. (2014). Benefits and impact of cloud computing on 5G signal processing: Flexible centralization through cloud-RAN. IEEE signal processing magazine, 31(6), 35-44.

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