Chief Digital Officer,
Asia Pacific of GE Healthcare
The Internet of Things (IoT) has stepped into our homes with sensor lights, smart refrigerators and robot vacuum cleaners. IoT also has a place in physical activity with smart health watches monitoring heart rate, calories burned and sleep cycle. Healthcare now welcomes IoT technology of sensors, AI, remote monitoring to revolutionise clinical treatment, hospital operations and medicine prescription.
A leading player in healthcare digitising is GE Healthcare. The company has devised solutions for doctors to conduct remote consultations (telehealth) and precision health AI for diagnosis and drug prescription based on individual patient’s genetics, lifestyle, diet and medical history.
CIO World Asia spoke with Eric Dulaurans, Chief Digital Officer, Asia Pacific of GE Healthcare. Dulaurans is responsible for overseeing GE Healthcare’s Digital portfolio including Enterprise Imaging solutions and Clinical Command Centers. He shares his insights on healthcare digitisation trends and priorities.
Trends In Healthcare Digitization
The pandemic has proved to be a powerful catalyst in bringing forward the industry’s digitalisation. We are now seeing the convergence of digital technologies with healthcare, to make medicine more personalized and precise. Over the last two years, three trends have come to the fore that will permanently drive and shape the way healthcare is delivered and received.
Telemedicine and virtual care – the key to expanding the care ecosystem
In a time of social isolation, healthcare providers urgently needed a way to provide access and communicate with patient communities in need of care. Digital health tools are helping to fill a critical gap in care delivery, enabling hospitals and health systems to prioritize better as well as treat patients remotely. Regions like Southeast Asia especially grapple with having fewer doctors than their populations require. Innovations such as GE Healthcare’s virtual care solution, Mural, allows remote consultation among ICU doctors, surveillance of ICU patient deterioration and ventilation deterioration allowing an opportunity for timely intervention and enabling virtual care. This allows high quality critical care being delivered in non-metro cities and closer to patients’ locations. Inha hospital in Korea experienced the first installation of Mural, with plans in place to launch in Australia and ASEAN in the near future.
Improving precision through Artificial intelligence
Properly managed Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be a boon to healthcare as it will automate the most mundane and repetitive tasks, enabling providers to focus more time on patient care. Take radiology for example. While automating the interpretation of images has captured the imagination, more humble applications around workflow optimization, tele-radiology, staffing fulfillment, provisioning, and asset management, are where AI is beginning to take hold and deliver transformational results in radiology today. The COVID-19 pandemic also created an added challenge of infection control, requiring minimal physical contact to keep patients and clinicians safe from the virus. AI-enabled CT machines, as recently introduced in Thailand and Vietnam by GE Healthcare, helped eliminate these manual variations. Achieving a better-quality scan now no longer requires more time in the scanner.
Reducing the cost of care with Big data
Healthcare systems have never been more accessible, intelligent, or dynamic. However, there has never been more pressure to keep costs low as healthcare demand continues to rise. According to an analysis done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), out of every 10 patients hospitalized, one would suffer an “adverse event” that would add 13 to 17 per cent to the cost of care. In keeping costs low, an area that is often overlooked is data – and the amount of data the healthcare industry collects is truly mind-boggling. The volume of data has been growing exponentially in the past decade as health care providers turned to electronic health records, digitized laboratory slides, and high-resolution radiology images and videos.
A 2019 survey in the Journal of Big Data predicted that the implementation of big data analytics by healthcare organizations might lead to savings of over 25% in annual costs in the coming years. Furthermore, better diagnosis and disease predictions by big data analytics can enable cost reduction by decreasing the hospital readmission rate. Ultimately, the efficient management, analysis, and interpretation of big data can change the game by driving a productivity transformation to increase profitability.
APAC Healthcare Organizations’ Need To Adopt Data-Driven Solutions
With healthcare needs and demands already shifting prior to COVID-19 due to the changing economic and demographic landscape in Asia, the pandemic has only accelerated the pressing need for better technology and digital solutions to elevate healthcare delivery and minimize disruption to operations.
From ensuring accessibility, both from a cost and geographic standpoint, to shifting from treatment of disease to prevention, healthcare leaders must view efficiency and the adoption of data-driven solutions as a process that improves every component of the care system and uplifts every individual who interacts with that system. From virtual care, to digitizing tasks to reducing manual labor, and improving data management to strengthen clinical decisions, all of these areas drive the future of healthcare.
Globally, healthcare systems are overwhelmed by the amount of data they collect and may not have the means to turn that information into the valuable insights they need for more efficient care. In fact, 54 percent of hospitals don’t have enough data to optimize their costs. The effective use of data requires changing the way it is stored and used today. The time is now for healthcare leaders to explore revamping the protocols and technologies that silo data and prevent information from informing action.
Data integration strengthens clinical decision-making and patient outcomes by providing insights to healthcare professionals when they need it. For instance, clinicians are adopting technologies such as AI to analyse large amounts of data and convert them into actionable insights that will lighten their workload. It is critical for leaders in the healthcare space to view efficiency as a process that improves every component of the care system and uplifts every individual who interacts with that system. When technology works for clinicians by surfacing actionable data on command, healthcare has a stronger chance to hold on to the people who keep the system running smoothly and reduce burnout. By leveraging technology, nurses can be freed up to focus on critical cases patient care, instead of menial, administrative tasks.
Benefits Of Data-Driven Solutions
The transition to a data-driven health ecosystem is about improving outcomes by finding new ways to reach and treat patients, while creating capacity for providers, and making precision health a reality. For instance, AI and data analytics can be used to predict the course of a disease, automate, advance workflow efficiency, and improve patient experience. Therefore, doctors may be able to predict an individual’s risk of certain diseases and suggest preventive measures.
Data-driven solutions enable clinicians to access the information they need to care for patients in their home, their office, remote areas, and to collaborate with specialists in another country. In order to meet patients’ expectations for greater expediency, access, and convenience, the industry has to continue placing digital innovation at the forefront. In the long term, with actionable data and modernized healthcare systems, the application of technologies like AI across the entire patient journey can help achieve precision healthcare that’s integrated, efficient, and highly personalized.
In the long term, with actionable data and modernized healthcare systems, the application of technologies like AI across the entire patient journey can help achieve precision healthcare that’s integrated, efficient, and highly personalized.Eric Dulaurans, Chief Digital Officer, Asia Pacific of GE Healthcare
Top Digital Transformation Priorities For Healthcare C-suites
The top priorities center on the Triple Aim of enhancing patient experience, improving the health of populations, and reducing costs. Digital solutions form the backbone of healthcare today. However, building trust in digital healthcare continues to face numerous challenges which C-suites in Asia-Pacific should take into consideration when planning their digital transformation strategies. This includes:
A lack of rigorous study around the outcomes of touted technologies; technology development by engineers who did not understand the unique challenges of healthcare; and fears among providers that an app, machine, or algorithm may one day replace them.
Healthcare data has replaced financial data as the most valuable information to steal and sell on the black market. In 2020 alone, the total cost of breaches to healthcare organizations amounted to USD 13.2B, with close to 60% increase in healthcare breaches YoY and the cost per healthcare record breached averaging at USD 499. While healthcare executives are increasingly aware of the threat of a cyber-attack, their systems remain poorly-protected against the ever more sophisticated cyber-criminal attacks occurring today.
Advanced analytics requires access to varied data from numerous sources, both within and among organizations, commercial entities, municipalities, and countries. Given the technical, regulatory, legal, privacy, and cultural complexities, convincing traditionally siloed systems to share data presents a significant hurdle.
Understanding healthcare industry’s digitisation trends and hurdles is also advantageous for grasping the general digital transformation landscape. Digital healthcare’s trends and hurdles can be de-contextualised and applied to other industries which are rapidly digitising. The challenges of securing data’s safety from malicious personnel, merging data from various sources into one system, are universal. Raising employees’ awareness of the imperative to digitise is also stepping stones applicable to CIOs across industries.