In the midst of a global pandemic, government spending on healthcare has skyrocketed; the Australian Government budget recently set aside a record $115.5 billion for essential health services. But, even before COVID-19 materialised, healthcare spending in Australia was on the rise. In 2017-2018, the total health spending in Australia was $185.4 billion, averaging out to $7,485 per person.
Many health institutes would like to see these costs reduced, but the question is how to do this without compromising patient health?
Digital health is the way forward
Healthcare’s reinvention is being driven by two main factors: the search for economic sustainability and digital disruption. Healthcare spending is on an unsustainable trajectory, thanks to demographic shifts and globalisation. But just as health systems need to contain costs, digital health has emerged to enable approaches that are dramatically more cost-effective.
One positive to come from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the acceleration of digital health initiatives. For example, Telehealth, which has been on the verge of rollout for the past five years has now been delivered comprehensively. Likewise, digital technologies have played a key role in communicating the results of COVID tests, and to assist in contact tracing. But, there is still more that can be done, particularly in establishing digital systems to assist the sector long term.
More than 80% of healthcare organisations recognise that digital health is the way forward and we are seeing investments being made in customer centric processes which optimise patient experience.
One major challenge for transforming healthcare with digital platforms is ensuring patient confidentiality. This is where safe, reliable and robust IT systems become essential. In order to be effective, data must be available at all times so that when critical health decisions need to be made, patient information can be accessed immediately. As such, availability or uptime is also critical. Compliance requirements also demand that critical infrastructures have backup-power up; in the event of a power failure, systems must be up and running within half a second.
How can Edge computing, AI & IoT help positive healthcare outcomes?
Edge computing, Artificial Intelligence and IoT are powerful technologies being utilised in the digital transformation of today’s healthcare industry.
Utilising Edge computing means less latency compared to cloud-hosted services. This is particularly important when patient information needs to be consulted to make clinical decisions during an emergency situation.
AI accelerates the discovery process during drug trials. We have seen examples of this in the race to find a vaccine for COVID-19. By being able to run multiple scenarios and use biomarker identification and drug repurposing, pharmaceutical companies can fast track drug development and save millions in costs.
There are many other ways these emerging technologies create positive health outcomes:
- Using AI to check imaging to reduce the time between patient testing and diagnosis. This can also reduce misdiagnosis rates
- Monitoring of patients by cameras and sensors to reduce the risk of falls for vulnerable patients
- Monitoring of patients to alert healthcare providers to any clinical changes
- Reducing the risks inherent in the healthcare supply chain with IoT and Edge technology, such as keeping drugs at the right temperature and identifying counterfeit products
- Providing quality healthcare to isolated rural areas through portable Edge computing devices, which can gather, store, generate, and analyse critical patient data without needing to be in constant contact with a network infrastructure
Creating a resilient health system
Many things have become clearer through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic. The need to create resilient health facilities which can continue to operate efficiently and effectively, even in the face of a disaster or emergency, is perhaps one of the most important.
Every health system must have resiliency against grid instability, must have back-up power solutions and be able to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of patient care. Schneider Electric solutions are designed to do just this. We see the needs of hospitals as:
- Patient Safety: The safety of your patients is priority #1. You need to protect them with reliable, always-on power
- Operational Efficiency: Inefficiencies are causing budgetary burdens. You are looking to improve energy efficiency and staff productivity to reduce costs
- Patient Satisfaction: Happy patients equal healthy hospital budgets. You’d like to create an at-home experience for bigger patient smiles
Schneider Electric offers IT solutions for healthcare provides which can enable them to better treat and meet the needs of their patients. With solutions across areas such as Edge computing, backup power, UPSs, server technology and more, Schneider Electric can design a solution that best suits your needs.
Find out more about Schneider Electric’s edge computing solutions.