Digital technology – new future for Vietnamese healthcare

July 04, 2020 | 11:50
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Digitalisation has opened up exciting new possibilities in medical care and capacity building. Especially, in the case of uncertainties like the COVID-19 situation, the concept of healthcare provider and practice will undergo a significant shift from the conventional setting to a more fluid application that flexes with the needs of the community. Son Pham, country manager for GE Healthcare Vietnam and CEO of GE Vietnam, shares his ideas on the role of digital technology in the Vietnamese health sector and the future.
digital technology new future for vietnamese healthcare
Pham Hong Son, GE Vietnam CEO cum country manager of GE Healthcare Vietnam

The time after COVID-19 is often tauted as a turning point for healthcare as it highlights a turn to the digital in providing and practising services. What is your view on this matter?

Uncertainties like the COVID-19 pandemic are a factor that accelerates the digital transformation of Vietnamese healthcare, rather than creating a new pathway. This process has been in development for the recent decades, making improvements in the quality and speed of health services. It’s an inevitable direction. The fact is that we seek support from digital solutions to benefit patients and the overall healthcare system – which is sensible and normal.

The pandemic has greatly changed the balance of demand and supply, making it harder for the traditional approach to adapt. In another way, COVID-19 has lowered the barriers towards digital integration and created room for new technology to manifest efficiency. We are optimistic about the outlook for healthcare transformation and delivery in Vietnam.

In which key fields will digital technology change the way healthcare benefits patients?

First of all, the support of advanced technological equipment will help to reduce human manipulations in diagnosis, shorten examination and treatment time, minimise human errors, and increase accuracy. Automation and predictive capabilities driven by AI or data analytics will free up clinicians' time to concentrate on more meaningful tasks.

In times of epidemics and disasters, remote medical examination and treatment with technology will help minimise exposure risk from unnecessary exposure and the transmission of infectious, protecting the health of doctors and creating a safe environment for doctors, patients, families, and visitors.

Aside from changes in services, how has the transformation affected healthcare practice?

Online education and training is shaping up to be a key pillar to support healthcare development in the future. It supports the lack of trained human resources in the country and expands the reach of specialist care to all areas.

According to Solidiance, Vietnam has 8.6 doctors per 10,000 people. In addition, these practitioners are mainly located in the main cities of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The dispropotionate distribution has created knowledge gap between doctors of different regions.

The timely emergence of new technology and digitisation solutions help all doctors and medical staff to have access to continuing healthcare training even in the case of restricted travel.

How has GE Healthcare been involved in the digitalisation process?

Significant technologies created by GE Healthcare are TeleICU, remote monitoring, and remote servicing of equipment.

TeleICU allows patients in remote and distant places to be connected through an off-site command centre to a critical care team, and crucial health information is exchanged in real-time through audio, visual, as well as electronic means.

TeleICU allows patients in remote and distant places to be connected through an off-site command centre to a critical care team, and crucial health information is exchanged in real-time through audio, visual, as well as electronic means.

With remote monitoring, doctors can monitor their patients without making multiple trips to visit their premises. This minimises physical interaction, reduces contamination risk, and still allows timely support to at-risk patients at critical moments even from a distance.

In regards to equipment, we develop remote servicing, allowing engineers to dispense their expertise digitally through augmented reality applications and fix simpler cases remotely. Companies use this data to either ensure that they have the parts, resources, and tools available at the time of failure or in some instances, ensure replacement parts are proactively procured to ensure the customer does not face any unplanned downtime.

Recently, GE Healthcare implemented a series of virtual webinars to communicate relevant COVID-19 information efficiently and help clinicians meet mandatory annual training requirements (Continuing Medical Education points). Online workshops attracted the participation of more than 1,000 medical workers.

How has GE Healthcare been implementing the latest digital solutions in Vietnam? What is the company’s strategy on bringing new technology into the market?

GE Healthcare hopes to continue our collaboration with Vietnamese healthcare in order to provide advanced technologies and put the latest equipment intro operation. During the period of COVID-19, we have applied various new medical solutions with the aim of supporting the fight against the pandemic and resolve unprecedented happenings.

In March, GE Healthcare provided over 200 GE Healthcare patient monitors and ventilators to the Ministry of Health for its Telemedicine Centre for COVID-19 Outbreak Control. With the help of other local technologies, our equipment will be connected across northern, central, and southern Vietnam and 20 provincial hospitals throughout the country to the main Telemedicine centre in Hanoi, ensuring patients in rural Vietnam have access to specialist care.

In addition, in April, GE Healthcare collaborated with the Vietnam Association of Radiology Technologists to organise several webinars around the use of X-Ray, chest CT techniques to aid the efficient diagnosis of COVID-19 cases, as well as provide safety guidelines for radiologists as they work to diagnose COVID-19 patients. In May, GE Healthcare supported the delivery of a virtual Continuing Medical Education (CME) session on “3D Uterus in Infertility”.

In the upcoming period, GE remains committed to work with all stakeholders in Vietnam to provide timely and suitable digital solutions focusing on two main pillars: enhancing healthcare efficiency and improving the skills and knowledge of medical staff.

By Mai Thuy

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