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The hospital of tomorrow

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

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Now IBM’s Watson joins IoT revolution in agriculture

Global expansion of the Watson Decision Platform taps into AI, weather and IoT data to boost production

IBM has announced the global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture, with AI technology tailored for new crops and specific regions to help feed a growing population. For the first time, IBM is providing a global agriculture solution that combines predictive technology with data from The Weather Company, an IBM Business, and IoT data to help give farmers around the world greater insights about planning, ploughing, planting, spraying and harvesting.

By 2050, the world will need to feed two billion more people without an increase in arable land [1]. IBM is combining power weather data – including historical, current and forecast data and weather prediction models from The Weather Company – with crop models to help improve yield forecast accuracy, generate value, and increase both farm production and profitability.

Roric Paulman, owner/operator of Paulman Farms in Southwest Nebraska, said: “As a farmer, the wild card is always weather. IBM overlays weather details with my own data and historical information to help me apply, verify, and make decisions. For example, our farm is in a highly restricted water basin, so the ability to better anticipate rain not only saves me money but also helps me save precious natural resources.”

New crop models include corn, wheat, soy, cotton, sorghum, barley, sugar cane and potato, with more coming soon. These models will now be available in the Africa, U.S. Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, as well as new markets across Europe and Australia.

Kristen Lauria, general manager of Watson Media and Weather Solutions at IBM, said: “These days farmers don’t just farm food, they also cultivate data – from drones flying over fields to smart irrigation systems, and IoT sensors affixed to combines, seeders, sprayers and other equipment. Most of the time, this data is left on the vine — never analysed or used to derive insights. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture aims to change that by offering tools and solutions to help growers make more informed decisions about their crops.” 

The average farm generates an estimated 500,000 data points per day, which will grow to 4 million data points by 2036 [2]. Applying AI and analysis to aggregated field, machine and environmental data can help improve shared insights between growers and enterprises across the agriculture ecosystem. With a better view of the fields, growers can see what’s working on certain farms and share best practices with other farmers. The platform assesses data in an electronic field record to identify and communicate crop management patterns and insights. Enterprise businesses such as food companies, grain processors, or produce distributors can then work with farmers to leverage those insights. It helps track crop yield as well as the environmental, weather and plant biologic conditions that go into a good or bad yield, such as irrigation management, pest and disease risk analysis and cohort analysis for comparing similar subsets of fields.

The result isn’t just more productive farmers. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture could help a livestock company eliminate a certain mold or fungus from feed supply grains or help identify the best crop irrigation practices for farmers to use in drought-stricken areas like California. It could help deliver the perfect French fry for a fast food chain that needs longer – not fatter – potatoes from its network of growers. Or it could help a beer distributor produce a more affordable premium beer by growing higher quality barley that meets the standard required to become malting barley.

Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is built on IBM PAIRS Geoscope from IBM Research, which quickly processes massive, complex geospatial and time-based datasets collected by satellites, drones, aerial flights, millions of IoT sensors and weather models. It crunches large, complex data and creates insights quickly and easily so farmers and food companies can focus on growing crops for global communities.

IBM and The Weather Company help the agriculture industry find value in weather insights. IBM Research collaborates with start up Hello Tractor to integrate The Weather Company data, remote sensing data (e.g., satellite), and IoT data from tractors. IBM also works with crop nutrition leader Yara to include hyperlocal weather forecasts in its digital platform for real-time recommendations, tailored to specific fields or crops. IBM acquired The Weather Company in 2016 and has since been helping clients better understand and mitigate the cost of weather on their businesses. The global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is the latest innovation in IBM’s efforts to make weather a more predictable business consideration. Also just announced, Weather Signals is a new AI-based tool that merges The Weather Company data with a company’s own operations data to reveal how minor fluctuations in weather affects business.

The combination of rich weather forecast data from The Weather Company and IBM’s AI and Cloud technologies is designed to provide a unique capability, which is being leveraged by agriculture, energy and utility companies, airlines, retailers and many others to make informed business decisions.

[1] The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision”

[2] Business Insider Intelligence, 2016 report: https://www.businessinsider.com/internet-of-things-smart-agriculture-2016-10


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What if Amazon used AI to take on factories?

By ANTONY BOURNE, IFS Global Industry Director for Manufacturing

Amazon recently announced record profits of $3.03bn, breaking its own record for the third consecutive time. However, Amazon appears to be at a crossroads as to where it heads next. Beyond pouring additional energy into Amazon Prime, many have wondered whether the company may decide to enter an entirely new sector such as manufacturing to drive future growth, after all, it seems a logical step for the company with its finger in so many pies.

At this point, it is unclear whether Amazon would truly ‘get its hands dirty’ by manufacturing its own products on a grand scale. But what if it did? It’s worth exploring this reality. What if Amazon did decide to move into manufacturing, a sector dominated by traditional firms and one that is yet to see an explosive tech rival enter? After all, many similarly positioned tech giants have stuck to providing data analytics services or consulting to these firms rather than genuinely engaging with and analysing manufacturing techniques directly.

If Amazon did factories

If Amazon decided to take a step into manufacturing, it is likely that they could use the Echo range as a template of what AI can achieve. In recent years,Amazon gained expertise on the way to designing its Echo home speaker range that features Alexa, an artificial intelligence and IoT-based digital assistant.Amazon could replicate a similar form with the deployment of AI and Industrial IoT (IIoT) to create an autonomously-run smart manufacturing plant. Such a plant could feature IIoT sensors to enable the machinery to be run remotely and self-aware; managing external inputs and outputs such as supply deliveries and the shipping of finished goods. Just-in-time logistics would remove the need for warehousing while other machines could be placed in charge of maintenance using AI and remote access. Through this, Amazon could radically reduce the need for human labour and interaction in manufacturing as the use of AI, IIoT and data analytics will leave only the human role for monitoring and strategic evaluation. Amazon has been using autonomous robots in their logistics and distribution centres since 2017. As demonstrated with the Echo range, this technology is available now, with the full capabilities of Blockchain and 5G soon to be realised and allowing an exponentially-increased amount of data to be received, processed and communicated.

Manufacturing with knowledge

Theorising what Amazon’s manufacturing debut would look like provides a stark learning opportunity for traditional manufacturers. After all, wheneverAmazon has entered the fray in other traditional industries such as retail and logistics, the sector has never remained the same again. The key takeaway for manufacturers is that now is the time to start leveraging the sort of technologies and approaches to data management that Amazon is already doing in its current operations. When thinking about how to implement AI and new technologies in existing environments, specific end-business goals and targets must be considered, or else the end result will fail to live up to the most optimistic of expectations. As with any target and goal, the more targeted your objectives, the more competitive and transformative your results. Once specific targets and deliverables have been considered, the resources and methods of implementation must also be considered. As Amazon did with early automation of their distribution and logistics centres, manufacturers need to implement change gradually and be focused on achieving small and incremental results that will generate wider momentum and the appetite to lead more expansive changes.

In implementing newer technologies, manufacturers need to bear in mind two fundamental aspects of implementation: software and hardware solutions. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, which is increasingly bolstered by AI, will enable manufacturers to leverage the data from connected IoT devices, sensors, and automated systems from the factory floor and the wider business. ERP software will be the key to making strategic decisions and executing routine operational tasks more efficiently. This will allow manufacturers to keep on top of trends and deliver real-time forecasting and spot any potential problems before they impact the wider business.

As for the hardware, stock management drones and sensor-embedded hardware will be the eyes through which manufacturers view the impact emerging technologies bring to their operations. Unlike manual stock audits and counting, drones with AI capabilities can monitor stock intelligently around production so that operations are not disrupted or halted. Manufacturers will be able to see what is working, what is going wrong, and where there is potential for further improvement and change.

Knowledge for manufacturing

For many traditional manufacturers, they may see Amazon as a looming threat, and smart-factory technologies such as AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as a far off utopia. However, 2019 presents a perfect opportunity for manufacturers themselves to really determine how the tech giants and emerging technologies will affect the industry. Technologies such as AI and IoT are available today; and the full benefits of these technologies will only deepen as they are implemented alongside the maturing of other emerging technologies such as 5G and Blockchain in the next 3-5 years. Manufacturers need to analyse the needs which these technologies can address and produce a proper plan on how to gradually implement these technologies to address specific targets and deliverables. AI-based software and hardware solutions will fundamentally revolutionise manufacturing, yet for 2019, manufacturers just have to be willing to make the first steps in modernisation.

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