Getting both healthcare and education prepared for 5G

April 11, 2022 | 21:00
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Vietnam’s healthcare and education sectors experienced strong technology applications over the past two years. Nguyen Thanh Son, founder and chairman of MVV Academy, talked to VIR’s Tung Anh about the accelerating progress amid commercialisation of 5G.

How have Vietnam’s healthcare and education sectors adjusted tech-wise in the past couple of years?

Getting both healthcare and education prepared for 5G
Nguyen Thanh Son, founder and chairman of MVV Academy

The pandemic forced acceleration of IT integration towards digital transformation, and medtech and healthtech became known keywords for the first time.

There have been small changes in mindset and habits, and an acceptance of remote services in healthcare. Large and public hospitals also promoted online consultancy services.

Having invested in remote health consultancy services, I see the impact of the change in mindset helping our business gain brand awareness and receive additional inquiries, especially in the past year.

Education was one of the sectors having to roll out technology integration the fastest to maintain operation. The Ministry of Information and Communications states the national digital transformation programme would prioritise education and training, and the government has committed around $130 million to accelerate the installation of internet fiber-optic connections in schools. To accelerate digital transformation in the sector, in January Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam signed Decision No.131/QD-TTg, approving the scheme on enhancing IT applications and digital transformation in the education and training sector by 2025, with a vision towards 2030.

The vision of the healthcare and education sectors is to promote the application of digital technologies, thus developing smart healthcare and education. What factors should be focused on to achieve the target?

There are many factors we can name to achieve the target, but I believe it all starts with one keyword: mindset.

Limited digital capabilities of health professionals and patients are a top challenge for further digital adoption at Vietnamese hospitals. The current focus of software integration is still on short-term goals rather than long-term digital adoption.

Though technology investments are approved by the top management, real users of the technology are doctors, nurses, and operational staff, and hesitance and inability from these users will slow down adoption.

This is why a change in mindset is necessary, and training and learning about digital adoption’s long-term benefits on cost efficiency and operational efficiency will help the healthcare sector achieve this target. If all healthcare stakeholders, especially users, believe in the long-term impacts and are confidently tech-savvy, challenges to smart healthcare will be eased considerably.

In education, regulators will need to set the framework for the standardisation of IT infrastructure, testing, accreditation, and transparency. To accelerate the process, we believe in investment in training to empower teachers and users to make full use of technology in education, and embracing technology as a means to improve efficiency and pursue a continuous learning and growth mindset to set themselves ready to be part of the workforce of the future digital nation.

We have worked with other ministries on several projects to enhance the digital capabilities of personnel and stakeholders, including the ministry of agriculture, and have seen the impact a change in mindset and confidence in technology usage can bring.

How can both education and healthcare tap into dedicated 5G networks to increase their efficiency in the future?

Digital transformation brings big opportunities for the education sector. It helps standardise learning materials and testing standards, systematically rolling out e-learning to ensure education under streamlined standards.

It will also make education accessible for larger communities: instead of having to send teachers to rural areas with students having to commute long distances to schools, the provision of e-learning will enable remote teaching and remote learning for larger and further communities. And with5G, it will allow higher and faster data transfer, ensuring a stable internet connection.

For healthcare, healthtech is data-heavy and so with stronger data, new healthtech can be developed.

5G implementation can help solve two key challenges in healthcare. Firstly, hospitals are required to move towards financial autonomy and cost-saving efficiency from implementing digitalised solutions will contribute to better financials in the long-term.

The other is facilitating information sharing with all stakeholders. Currently, there are no national standards on data output and the management of patient records is not systematic. Inter-hospital, hospital-payer connections are still slow and paper-based. Digitalising information will improve connection and contribute to improving healthcare coverage as payment and moving coverage from one hospital to another are made easier.

Promoting IT implementation and cloud-based training will also help hospitals enhance trust and serve as a value proposition, especially for non-central institutions. Investing in 5G-based training solutions will help them ensure continuously updated data and remote training at times of convenience, reducing the knowledge gap between central and non-central institutions.

Additionally, as showcased in other industries, investment in training and learning helps to retain and engage talent. Post-pandemic, there was a major drop in motivation among healthcare professionals; continuous exchange within learning spaces can help bring back motivation in healthcare.

Another benefit of commercialising 5G is the potential shortened roadmap to net zero. According to Ericsson’s four pillars to increase network energy performance, commercialising 5G can help activate energy-saving software, modernising networks to immediately lower energy consumption.

However, the sectors are expected to face some challenges in the commercialisation of 5G, including regulations for online schooling, testing, and accreditation.

In regards to IT infrastructure, some on-premise technology being implemented in schools is out of date and the cost of improving this tech will have a big impact on schools’ balance sheets. Software-as-a-service could be the solution for schools and other educational institutions. Building community trust and cyber security enhancement for both sectors is another challenge.

By Tung Anh

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