Cloud and mobile are just two technologies that the hospitals of the future need to embrace in order to meet performance goals and evolve into the 21st century , writes MATTHEW BARKER of Aruba Networks.
For many governments, how a country looks after its own health is often the cornerstone of any successful political campaign. Even if budgets rise for healthcare systems, ageing populations mean that health services are being stretched more than ever. So, where do healthcare organisations even begin to try and become more streamlined and deliver a service that’s equivalent to other industries?
To continue to meet performance goals, the global healthcare system has to evolve and mobile technology will be at the very heart of this change. Technology is key to any 21st century business and healthcare is no different. The hospital of tomorrow will be a shadow of what it is today and if the right decisions are made, technology innovation will start to deliver huge benefits; not just to hospitals, but also to the patients it supports. We believe the hospital of 2025 will;
Be 50% more efficient through the birth of the ‘mCloud’
The mCloud will be a centralised, secure hub used for storing patient information that is accessible anywhere and anytime across the globe. A centralised hub will mean tomorrow’s medical records will be stored entirely on a private and secure cloud service that can be accessed wherever and whenever required. This will drive efficiencies through the roof.
mCloud allows hospitals to be part of a global, safe and secure network that gives doctors a broader set of records and a much more robust and holistic view of a patient. The money saved on issues like incorrect diagnosis could be reinvested into R&D departments allowing healthcare organisations to expand at a much quicker rate than they are doing today.
This centralised system will be enabled by an advanced Wi-Fi network experience that allows for the real-time prioritisation of data, which will save valuable time on diagnosis. Location services enabled by mobile technology will result in pieces of medical equipment being located much faster; items such as heart monitoring and other large diagnostic equipment will be easily located inside hospitals, meaning patients will have access to the machines much quicker than they currently do. Beyond this, location-based mobile will give much more refined and detailed location services inside a building so doctors can track and trace things much quicker.
Reduce misdiagnosis by 75% through the partnership of real-time data and mobile technology
Healthcare has traditionally lagged behind other key industries in terms of innovation – perhaps due to issues surrounding patient confidentiality. However, the hospital of tomorrow will make use of real-time data through the use of mobile software and devices, giving consultants greater visibility into a patient’s ailments and reducing misdiagnosis by over 75%.
These rising levels of accuracy will also be driven by #GenMobile who will be sharing data on mobile devices such as smartphones, wearables and tablets. As more and more hospitals become reliant on networks, IT security will become paramount so departments will need to invest heavily in order to alleviate some of the concerns often associated with network security.
From a management point of view, staffing levels will be much easier to control through the predictive capabilities of big data. Using mobile technology will see the rise of ‘virtual assistants’ meaning that facilities are managed in a much more efficient way. The management of beds will also mean patients are less likely to be waiting around for an empty bed. If beds are full or are about to become free, ward managers can be alerted to this in real time via their mobile device and react more effectively.
Deliver a truly paperless and wireless world driving better confidentiality and collaboration
Whilst it’s not believed all working environments will be paperless, there is a big push for many industries to go that way and healthcare is no different. The money spent on purchasing paper and document storage will reduce by over 80% equating to millions, if not billions of Rands saved each year. Regional data centres vs one central hub have been suggested as a way of easing many people’s fears that their records could be compromised, but as long as assurances over security are met, a paperless environment would have huge benefits to confidentiality. Within radiology, RIS and PACS systems have already led to paperless departments, saving space, time and enabling remote diagnosis from experts around the globe.
The implementation of wireless communications systems and VoIP goes hand in hand with this decline of the paper world. Doctors will be able to communicate and collaborate with individuals or groups with the touch of a button. The response time will be instantaneous and, by having all the right people are involved in the decision making process throughout, this will reduce errors and misdiagnosis. Poor communication will be a thing of the past.
Be a customised and smart patient experience
The hospital of tomorrow will be fully mobile, personalised and will resemble a modern day hotel.
With the traditional hospital consulting room showing minimal improvement since World War 2, many healthcare organisations have started to focus on ‘smart rooms’, which will completely revolutionise the patient experience. The rooms of tomorrow will be entirely connected and have the ability to communicate not just with consultants but also with the hospital as a whole. The hospital’s own personalised app will be at the very centre of this. Computers and networks will connect both inside and outside the room. Remote consulting, which is already being trialled across various European, countries will become the norm.
We’ll also start to see hospitals use their own apps to enable patients to make appointments through their mobile devices. Patients and visitors will be able to locate amenities once in the hospital, send and receive personalised messages to nurses and physicians, and access diagnostic results electronically just a handful of benefits. The bedside care of patients will transform in a huge way with mobility at the very core. Results of tests such as x-rays can be shared in an instant, with decisions on next steps being made much quicker than they are today. Doctors will then be able to share information with each other digitally, which means patients will no longer be waiting hours for guidance on next steps.
The road to the future
While the hospital of tomorrow is undoubtedly some years from becoming a reality, the technology is in place to begin the transformation now.
It begins with a review of hospital networks and an understanding of who needs to use them. Medical staff, patients and visitors need to use the facilities in very different ways and with different devices, but we now have the capabilities to cater to each of these preferences.
In order for healthcare organisations to take this towards becoming smarter, more efficient and more comfortable for their patients, leaders need to start considering, and building around, the digital age.
* Matthew Barker, regional manager for Sub-Saharan Africa at Aruba Networks
Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults
An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.
By 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.
These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.
Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.
The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:
- The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
- The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
- The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
- The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
- The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
- The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.
The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been.
“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured. The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.
“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’.
“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves. Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).
“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”
For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.
How load-shedding is killing our cellphone signals
Extensive load-shedding, combined with the theft of cell tower backup batteries and copper wire, is placing a massive strain on mobile network providers.
MTN says the majority of MTN’S sites have been equipped with battery backup systems to ensure there is enough power on site to run the system for several hours when local power goes out and the mains go down.
“With power outages on the rise, these back-up systems become imperative to keeping South Africa connected and MTN has invested heavily in generators and backup batteries to maintain communication for customers, despite the lack of electrical power,” the operator said in a statement today.
However, according to Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive: Corporate Affairs, at MTN SA, “The high frequency of the cycles of load shedding
An additional challenge is that criminals and criminal syndicates are placing networks across the country at risk. Batteries, which can cost R28 000 per battery and upwards, are sought after on black markets – especially in neighbouring countries.
“Although MTN has improved security and is making strides in limiting instances of theft and vandalism with the assistance of the police, the increase in power outages has made this issue even more pressing,” says O’Sullivan.
Ernest Paul, General Manager: Network Operations at SA’s leading network provider MTN, says the brazen theft of batteries is an industry-wide problem and will require a broader initiative driven by communities, the private sector, police and prosecutors to bring it to a halt.
“Apart from the cost of replacing the stolen batteries and upgrading the broken infrastructure, communities suffer as the network degrades without the back-up power. This is due to the fact that any coverage gaps need to be filled. The situation is even more dire with the rolling power cuts expected due to Eskom load shedding.”
Loss of services and network quality can range from a 2-5km radius to 15km on some sites and affect 5,000 to 20,000 people. On hub sites, network coverage to entire suburbs and regions can be lost.
Click here to read more about efforts to combat copper theft.