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DIGITAL IS SET TO CHANGE HEALTHCARE MASSIVELY

Here is how

Sanjay Das, Founder and Managing Director, SD Global

Today, ‘Value’, ‘Patient Outcomes’ and ‘Quality’ are key watchwords for the healthcare sector. The stakeholders of healthcare are on a continuous drive to discover innovative and cost-effective ways to make this environment more patientcentric, secure and efficient. Here is how digital is transforming the dynamic health economy.

Value ‘patient outcomes’ and ‘quality’ are key watchwords for the healthcare sector today. Stakeholders of this ecosystem are on a continuous drive to discover innovative and cost-effective ways to make this environment more patientcentric, secure and efficient. The stakeholders of healthcare are being pushed to identify ways to move from ‘volume’ to ‘value’, engage with patients and improve experiences, increase access, and improve care. Creating a positive margin, improving financial performance and operating margins become other areas of concern in a changing and dynamic health economy. We are moving into a world where information abounds, and patients are no longer passive receivers of care. Driven by their experiences in other industries, the consumers of healthcare, i.e. the patients, want similar, if not better, healthcare experiences.

The Benefits of Digital Technologies in Healthcare

The good news here is that technology and the innovations arising from the use of technology are helping the industry move into an age that is decentralised, democratised and smart, helping both patients and healthcare professionals. Some of the obvious advantages of leveraging digital technologies can be summed up as follows:

• Smooth, seamless and transparent communication between doctors and patients that eliminates traditional hierarchies (attendants, assistants, etc.)
• Bandwidth to respond to policy changes and complex regulations
• Proactive health management
• Increased system efficiencies by reorganising how services are organised and delivered
• Improved clinical effectiveness and greater bandwidth to focus on population health management
• Shift from the traditional ‘break-fix’ model of health care to preventive healthcare
• Greater healthcare access that defeats geographical tyranny and improves rural and remote community access
• Improved coordination of care between multiple teams and stakeholders by providing the caregivers with up-to-date information
• Timely, accurate and better-informed diagnostic based on data that leads to positive patient outcomes
• Better management of chronic conditions and improved life expectancy.

So, what are the key technologies that are making the healthcare sector fitter?

Wearables and IoT

Wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT) are two technologies that promise to solve many healthcare challenges.

• Wearable devices can proactively track patient health and provide timely alarms based on defined triggers
• The IoT ecosystem helps in providing the entire patient experience by enabling seamless communication between devices and sensors
• The location-based-real-time services provided by IoT also increases patient safety and helps in making the patient experience smarter in the hospital environment
• Wireless parking sensors can make the parking experience more patientfriendly
• Smart registration systems help in simplifying the patient registration process, enable self-service and ensure that all key patient-related information is present in one place.
• RFID sensors can help in increasing patient safety. These sensors also help in smarter asset management
• We are also witnessing the rise of Neurotechnology or Brain Sensorsthat help in monitoring brain activity
• Along with this, IoT and wearables also enable smart building technology to ensure that the entire hospital ecosystem functions optimally, reduces waste and improves environmental performance.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are two technologies that have moved out of the gaming sectorand are providing serious value to healthcare.

• These technologies can give the operating rooms the extra edge by giving surgeons high-level visualisation capabilities, enhancing 3D mapping, lowering risks and improving outcomes
• AR and VR add intelligence todepartments such as radiology and give the doctors the capability to view a patients’ anatomy in a threedimensional image
• These technologies can also be implemented to study how tumours evolve, change the size and compare in their overall size, shapes, and margins
• Virtual simulations can be effectively employed to improve learning outcomes and improve patient experience. Interactive technologies such as these are being employed to provide clear visualisations to patients to help them understand their health conditions
• 360-degree interactive guides and games are being employed to help in pain management and also manage phantom-limb syndrome.

Artificial Intelligence

The applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are expected to go beyond treatment and touch everything starting from service delivery to supplychain management.

• With AI, doctors get the bandwidth to tap into data orders of great magnitude in less time thereby positively impacting diagnosis and treatment decision-making
• AI-powered chatbots, virtual assistants and robotics are ushering in the new age of patient experience making patient care safer and easier
• These technologies also ensure that caregivers spend more time providing care and less time in documentation
• AI algorithms help hospitals identify ways to best manage expensive constrained resources, decrease wait times, improve patient access and reduce the healthcare delivery costs
• AI is also poised to give Genomics a huge push that could vastly improve patient outcomes for a myriad of diseases.

Big Data

Data is the new oil in healthcare as well.

• Big data analysis is helping the entire hospital environment become more efficient by identifying resource challenges
• It is ushering in the age of preventive medicine by helping doctors identify risk factors faster and more comprehensively
• Population health data is being leveraged to predict health care trends for different cultures and communities
• From advanced patient care improved operational efficiency and giving healthcare providers stronger capabilities to discover unknown correlations, hidden patterns, and insights, Big Data is changing the entire healthcare delivery model and making it more proactive.

Cloud and Mobility

Mobility and cloud have made healthcare more accessible. These two technologies are responsible for enabling telemedicine and ensuring that patients even in the remotest of areas can receive high-quality care. These two transformative technologies have also ensured greater democratisation of patient health data. Owing to the cloud and mobile, patients and caregivers can access comprehensive health records anywhere, anytime. These technologies also play a key role in improving patient experience by giving the doctors capabilities to improve care coordination, enhance respond rates, amplify data access and communication and reduce health care complexity.

Digital technologies have made a profound impact on a myriad of industries. The healthcare sector, though technology-driven, has until now been able to resist the charm of digital technologies. However, as digital becomes more mainstream and healthcare organisations battle several challenges, the transformative benefits of the technologies at play become hard to ignore. These technologies are now helping us deliver the hospital of tomorrow, the Smart Hospital – one where technology and human interactions co-exist to redefine care delivery, improve operational efficiencies, reduce waste, and promote well -being, both of the patients and the hospital staff.

--Issue 44--

Author Bio

Sanjay Das

Sanjay has spent over two decades in the IT industry in Malaysia. He is passionate about how IT can transform the healthcare industry. Under Sanjay’s able leadership, SD Global has established itself as a leader in Smart Hospital solutions in ASEAN countries - it has the breadth of vision, depth of technology understanding and ready frameworks to make the smart hospitals journey a guaranteed success for healthcare institutes. Sanjay is the winner of various awards including 100 Most Influential Young Entrepreneurs in Malaysia, Emerging Youth Entrepreneur Excellence award given by the ASEAN India Business Summit, and Perdana Young Indian Entrepreneur Award.