Digital tech helps boost healthcare industry during pandemic

Cheng believes the healthcare industry needs to adapt with technology to continue to serving patients safely during this time. — Handout

As the Covid-19 pandemic hit, physical distancing measures were introduced to contain the spread of the virus.

People around the world adapted to the new normal by staying connected via video conferencing platforms or using mobile applications to acquire services such as food delivery. Virtual experiences were utilised by people to “visit” places or experience personal events such as weddings.

Steven Cheng – the director for Emerging Business, Edge and E-Commerce, East Asia at Schneider Electric (SE) – said the pandemic has also impacted the healthcare industry as it rushes to accommodate patients, provide better treatment and protect the healthcare workforce who have been hailed as frontliners in the fight against Covid-19.

Just like any process that involves social interaction, Cheng believes the healthcare industry needs to adapt by using technology if it wants to continue to serve patients safely during this time.

“We can see the whole industry speeding the activation of remote diagnosis to help digest the overwhelming (number of) patients flooding to the hospital,” he said.

In a report on how technology can be used to transform the healthcare system, the World Health Organisation (WHO) explained that digital technology was used to improve diagnostic accuracy, with AI-powered CT image interpretation tools helping radiologists reduce CT reading time from hours to seconds at hospitals in China, which helped the healthcare workforce serve more patients without overwhelming them.

The WHO report also said digital tech gave frontliners the ability to remotely reach out to more patients, thereby helping to better keep track of infected people, particularly in the most intense weeks of the outbreak.

A recent analysis by market research company Frost & Sullivan similarly found that hospitals that had deployed smart technologies such as AI, robotics and remote health monitoring were widely viewed as being able to provide higher standards of patient care and a hassle-free experience for healthcare professionals.

Cheng explained that digital connectivity via IoT (Internet of Things) is needed to help hospitals communicate with patients as well as gather and process data seamlessly, with minimal human intervention or physical interaction.

He said the healthcare industry can benefit from using inter-connected IoT health tracking sensors for patient monitoring, adding that he believes the measure can also help reduce response time for treatment.

An example of such an application is a wearable device for patients which can be used to provide real-time feedback to doctors, who can then leverage the data to more accurately perform remote diagnoses.

Cheng also believes that an IoT-enabled environment in healthcare allows for a faster and smoother information exchange process, with less paperwork.

“Patients’ health records can be efficiently shared” to all the doctors involved in their care and enable them to more easily provide their insights, he said.

Cheng added that the patient experience can also be improved with IoT, citing the example of Grand Medica, a high-tech medical facility in Siberia which uses an IoT platform to oversee its building management systems and light and room control automation.

He shared that Grand Medica engaged SE in 2018 to integrate its EcoStruxure for Healthcare solution “to interconnect devices and equipment to deliver improved safety, patients’ satisfaction, and operational efficiency”.

Additionally, Cheng also said that IoT technology is also playing a major role in improving the efficiency of clinical operations.

“Asset tracking solutions, combined with improved data capture, are resulting in significant cost savings and optimisations for hospital staffing costs,” he explained.

In other words, it’s the way to the future of a better healthcare experience in a world that’s adapting to the new normal.

SE was the Megabyte Partner for #cXo2020 Engineering X Factor in the Age of Disruption organised by Star Media Group.

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