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The pandemic has disrupted conventional assumptions across all verticals. Nowhere is this truer than in healthcare and life sciences — two verticals that have traditionally depended on paper processes and in-person interactions, but are now compelled to turn increasingly to remote self-serve processes.

Today’s physical-distancing realities have transformed numerous assumptions about how doctors and patients interact, how pharmaceutical testing proceeds, and how clinical trials are performed. The simple act of handing someone a piece of paper to collect information now requires choreographing around sanitizing the paper while maintaining the integrity of its content. Hurdles like these are driving the digitization of paper documents and wet signatures.

The good news is that the technologies to enable these digital processes are already in place, and many organizations had already prioritized their adoption. Let’s take a closer look at how digital solutions are transforming the ways healthcare and life sciences organizations do business, setting them up not only for immediate success but also for long-term sustainability.

Evolving demands have accelerated digital transformation in healthcare and the life sciences
The early days of social distancing unfolded a bit like a corporate fire drill. Although workers had been trained — at least in theory — to follow established procedures, all that training flew out the window in the initial adrenaline-fueled rush to stay safe. Many workers resorted to reactive measures to move from paper to digital by leveraging their own ad hoc responses: insecure messaging apps, incompatible document-sharing platforms, and unverified digital signatures.

Once people recognized that the situation would be more than just a transient window, a growing number of healthcare and life sciences organizations took steps to deploy consistent and secure solutions to digitize a wide range of traditionally paper processes. For example, most outpatient office visits have been replaced with telehealth video conferences — while paper office forms have given way to digital consent and confidentiality agreements.

Global organizations that used to digitize locally and regionally are rethinking how they deploy solutions. For example, an organization might use various digital solutions in its procurement processes across regions. Now these de-centralized business functions groups are using cloud-based document processes to coordinate their activities on an enterprise-wide basis.

Now more than ever, security and compliance is an imperative requirement in healthcare and life science.

Cloud-based digital solutions streamline healthcare and life science processes in numerous ways.

In addition to the convenience of receiving and processing forms electronically, cloud-based document solutions provide a wide range of immediate benefits, such as access to content from anywhere, electronic signatures, and improved turnaround time through notifications and reminders.

Most notably from a remote management perspective, cloud-based solutions put an end to organizations’ dependence on on-site software installations. All necessary apps and technologies can be easily downloaded, while the latest generation of editable collaborative PDFs come pre-integrated into popular platforms such as Microsoft Office 365 and Google Drive.

On the financial side, cloud-based solutions enable healthcare and life sciences organizations to quickly streamline their remote workflows, without making a long-term commitment to any single piece of software. This frees up resources to invest in keeping facilities and projects running smoothly, while allowing businesses to remain flexible and adaptive in a time of uncertainty.

Digital workflows support a sustainable future for healthcare and life sciences organizations. As essential as cloud-based processes have become in our socially distanced world, these adaptations represent far more than just stopgap measures. Long after the situation has stabilized, expectations for seamless digital workflows will remain stronger than ever — both internally and in the minds of patients and partners.

Organizations that meet or exceed these expectations will be well-equipped to thrive in this cloud-first marketplace. Tomorrow’s business continuity demands forward-thinking solutions today — from patient consent, to procurement, to regulatory compliance, to provider verification, and beyond.

No organization is an island — especially within the healthcare and life sciences space, where collaborating with external partners remains crucial. Digital solutions like e-signatures from Adobe Sign should be able to seamlessly integrate into third-party applications so that the entire organization can use the e-signature technology—wherever they are. It can streamline processes beyond internal interactions, and throughout organizations’ entire ecosystems. This allows companies to focus on helping their remote teams stay productive—not the technology.

Picture: Andrey Suslov, Getty Images

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