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The hospital of tomorrow

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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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SA startups in Visa final

Leading fintech companies from the Sub-Sahara Africa technology startup community have made it to the finals of Visa’s Everywhere Initiative.

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Among the 12 chosen, from the 238 total entries, South African startups Howler and FinChatBot will compete against innovators from across Sub Sahara Africa for a chance to secure funding of up to US$50,000 to develop their ideas when the initiative concludes in Johannesburg on July 24. 

Fintechs in Africa are making incredible strides; not only to bring more convenience to consumers, but also to enable people who would not otherwise have access to financial services or even a way to connect to the formal banking system. Venture funding for African startups jumped by 51% to $195 million in 2017 and fintech in Africa is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years as it continues to disrupt the traditional financial sector. With a clear goal of reducing reliance on cash, building digital payment based economies and increasing financial inclusion, Visa is committed to fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and driving innovation in its payments landscape. 

The Sub Saharan Africa edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative challenged local fintech startup to deliver solutions based around three real life business challenges: 

  • How can startups leverage Visa Developer APIs to either:  Enable smaller merchants to accept payments in-store digitally OR Provide a safe and secure solution for online merchants to drive eCommerce and reduce cash on delivery?
  • How can startups use Visa’s APIs to leverage mass reach and social media partner platforms like Facebook to help businesses operating in fast-paced consumer centric environments improve cash flow and receive payments? 
  • How can startups leverage technology to provide services that are functional for illiterate customers to provide them with secure transaction experiences that build and enhance their confidence in the banking system?. 

Entrants were asked to submit ideas to leverage Visa’s network and technologies to resolve against at least one of the challenges. One winner per brief will be selected, with each receiving funding of US$25,000. Winners will be invited to a working meeting with Visa and may be presented with the opportunity to create a prototype. Visa will then select one overall winner to receive an additional US$25,000.

Geraldine Mitchley, Senior Director – Digital Solutions, Sub-Sahara Africa, Visa, said: “We are delighted with the response to our Visa’s Everywhere Initiative and the quality of submissions we received is an indication of the region’s rich talent pool and innovative spirit.”

“Launching this innovation program in the region has been an exciting time for the Visa SSA team, and the takeup reflects Africa’s enthusiasm to develop and pioneer solutions to the continent’s challenge – particularly in the payments technology space. I would like to congratulate the finalists and  wish them luck as they enter the final stretch.  When they come together for the final, they will not only have the chance to turn their ideas into reality, but also potentially help shape the future of payments in the region.”  

Howler which enables cashless transactions and end-to-end ticket handling for consumers and event organisers is competing in the first challenge and FinChatBot, which aims to automate part of customer services for financial service providers through AI-powered conversations is competing in the third challenge. 

The SSA edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative will wrap up on July 24 in Johannesburg, with each finalist having an opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges from Visa and the payments industry. 

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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