Intelligent technology crucial to sustainable healthcare

June 11, 2018 | 08:00
We are living longer and better in Asia than we have ever done before, but this is resulting in soaring demand for healthcare providers in the region to deliver high-quality medical care, consistently and sustainably.
intelligent technology crucial to sustainable healthcare
Tommy Leong

The World Bank reports that East Asia’s population is ageing faster than any other region’s in history, home to 36 per cent of the international 65 and over population with 211 million people. Singapore, Japan, and South Korea are considered as “advanced agers”. Furthermore, the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases adds to the demands on healthcare organisations, which are already constrained by tightening budgets and a lack of resources.

To meet the demands of an ageing population, there is an even greater focus needed on achieving better operational efficiency, while improving patient safety and satisfaction through integrating innovative technology in healthcare infrastructure. Meanwhile, hospitals on average use three times the volume of electricity of a typical large-scale office building, thereby adding to the burden of rising operations and energy costs.

Whether designing a new facility or expanding an existing one, it is important to consider prudent investment in technological healthcare solutions that deliver quality care, patient safety, hospital security, and staff productivity.

intelligent technology crucial to sustainable healthcare
Example sources of adverse patient effects in a hospital

Create a future-ready hospital

An optimally designed hospital needs to accommodate the use of sophisticated equipment; allow for rapid responses to emergencies; include built-in protection against human errors and mechanical failures; as well as provide safe spaces for patients to heal and the clinical staff to work. The answer to this is a digital healthcare infrastructure called EcoStruxureTM for Healthcare, which uses the latest technology including

embedded connectivity and intelligence; smart control, management, automation, and optimisation; and cloud-based digital services.

The intelligent infrastructure integrates and enables communication between traditionally disparate systems, leading to greater utilisation and return on investment of “connected” infrastructure devices – the Internet of Things (IoT). These IoT-enabled devices provide several benefits including embedded intelligence and control, control and monitoring capabilities via the cloud, as well as advanced analytics with the help of innovative software. Data collected from connected devices is used to drive better decision making and process improvements.

For instance, a clinical environment optimisation solution can share the occupancy status of patient rooms and operating theatres with the building management system, which then sets rooms to predetermined set points for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and lighting while the room is vacant to achieve energy savings during unoccupied times.

In Singapore, a notable example of how intelligent technology infrastructure is enabling health services to grow and meet patient demand can be seen in Integrated Healthcare Innovation Systems’ (IHIS) adoption of Schneider Electric’s Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) solution. The solution was part of IHIS’ private health cloud, H-Cloud, to provide a disaster-resilient platform for electronic medical records. An independent assessment by PwC suggests that the health cloud will deliver millions of dollars’ worth of savings over the next ten years. Each hospital cluster will reduce its costs by nearly 55 percent, compared to business-as-usual costs, by 2025.

Improve senior patient care and experience

At hospitals, the stakes are high. Uninterrupted access to power or a power outage can mean the difference between life and death, with an average cost of more than $1 million for a 200-bed hospital. In addition, adverse patient events (APEs) and healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) continue to claim lives, with attributed mortality in infected patients in hospitals in Southeast Asian countries at an estimated range of 7 per cent to 46 per cent.

The good news is that proper safeguards can reduce these APEs and HAIs, medical errors, and patient falls. By improving the electrical distribution system’s reliability, hospitals can both improve patient safety and reduce the financial risk of malpractice and wrongful death suits. Automated systems also ensure compliance to regulations and can even produce compliance reports.

Digital innovation transforms elderly healthcare

Patient safety starts at the very foundation – the physical foundation – of hospital facility systems. As people are getting older and experiencing multiple chronic diseases, they require a new paradigm of treatment in hospitals and clinics, as well as at home.

Energy efficiency projects can unlock trapped capital that can improve a hospital’s profit margin or be used to fund technological advancements, purchase medical equipment, or improve the patient experience – vital elements that would deliver significant results in terms of cost savings and patient-centric improvements.

By embracing intelligent infrastructure and applications, East Asian nations will have a solid foundation to transform the future of health and social care for its golden-agers. Schneider Electric

believes that intelligent technology is the answer, and it is a solution that healthcare organisations can successfully achieve today.

By Tommy Leong President of Schneider Electric, East Asia and Japan

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