Digital Healthcare and the Path to Living with an Endemic Covid-19

How the healthcare industry is harnessing digital capabilities to improve patient care and outcomes

Rajaneesh Kurup
Digital Healthcare and the Path to Living with an Endemic Covid-19

Singapore and the rest of the world are starting to embrace living with an endemic Covid-19, and are gradually opening their economies.

The pandemic has truly shone a spotlight on the importance of our healthcare systems and the ways in which they will need to evolve to support a world still figuring out the long-term implications of this crisis.

In a recent conversation with Shehaan Fernando, Regional Director, Virtual Care at Philips, we discussed how healthcare will continue to shape the ‘living with an endemic Covid-19[1]’ approach in Singapore, the region and the world – highlighting emerging trends and healthcare technology priorities that could further strengthen and empower healthcare.

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A Healthcare Ecosystem to accelerate transformation

“To support the new ‘living with an endemic Covid-19’ way of life – where patient care increasingly shifts from hospital to home – healthcare providers need to accelerate their digital transformation,” said Fernando. “The sustainability of healthcare will be dependent on optimizing operational and clinical efficiency, integrating diagnostics, and moving to proactive models of care requiring powerful predictive technology capabilities that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).”

Fernando’s assessment is aligned with one of the key findings from the 2021 Future Health Index (FHI) Report, indicating that healthcare leaders are increasing their investment in digital technology to accelerate healthcare innovation. FHI is a proprietary research commissioned by Royal Philips annually, and the 2021 report surveyed almost 3,000 healthcare leaders across 14 countries, including Australia, Singapore, and India.

To effectively assist patients under home support programs, healthcare leaders are also looking to strengthen their virtual care capabilities. According to the 2021 FHI report, Singapore anticipates a 49% increase in investment for telehealth related technology over the next three years, particularly in the area of professional-to-patient telehealth.

Fernando also added that despite a multitude of technologies and solutions available for healthcare, digital transformation in the sector can only truly accelerate when strong partnerships and collaborations among hospitals or healthcare facilities providers, healthcare technology (healthtech) and medical technology (medtech) partners, as well as government bodies take place. The FHI report reveals that 40% of Singaporean healthcare leaders say they need to prioritize strategic partnerships and collaborations to successfully implement digital health technologies, with more than 50% looking to partner especially with health IT/informatics organizations to advance their digital transformation agenda. Other organizations include industry and trade associations, consumer health tech companies, global non-governmental agencies and B2B health technology companies.

The Global Interconnection Index Volume 5, the latest market study published by Equinix, concurs with the above investment trends, indicating that Healthcare and Life Sciences in Asia-Pacific will see accelerating growth, with a 46% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in interconnection bandwidth, the measure of private connectivity for private and secure transfer of data between organizations, from 2020 to 2024.

Interconnected healthcare: Key to ‘living with an endemic Covid-19’

These planned healthcare priorities can only be addressed successfully if healthcare providers have in place robust, agile, and scalable IT infrastructure.

According to Fernando, managing siloed data and a lack of interoperability across technology systems are proving to be roadblocks to the digitization of healthcare which also compromises patient care. For instance, being able to access electronic health records (EHR) alongside reliable and insights-based actionable data would enable healthcare professionals to provide quick, efficient, and appropriate care for their patients.

Ultrafast connectivity allows a diverse range of medical devices and equipment to be connected to a server or the cloud. As a result, virtual care and telemedicine technology can make use of real-time data to enable higher quality remote healthcare. Patients can use wearables and other medical devices at home to check their blood pressure, temperature and heart rate, and transmit results for analysis by their doctor. On the other hand, healthcare providers can input patient notes, write prescriptions, and add other data that pharmacists and specialists can readily access at their own locations. Clinical decision support systems bring this rich datasets together in an actionable format, enabling clinicians to detect and intervene early so as to prevent disease progressions which are where the largest benefit is derived.

This is what a healthcare delivery success may look like living with an endemic Covid-19.  But there’s still much work to be done. The healthcare ecosystem globally needs to continually fortify its defenses and improve patient care and outcomes with the help of technology.

As a result, many are looking at rearchitecting their digital infrastructure to transform their business models and improve patient care at the same time. To succeed healthcare organizations need to be digital first by transforming their digital infrastructure to interconnect their digital core, integrate digital ecosystems and interact at the digital edge

  • Digital Core. Like every other industry, healthcare organizations are increasingly adopting multiple clouds as part of their digital transformation initiatives. The digital core is where organizations establish their digital presence and optimize for adjacency to the greatest choice of on-demand capacity from clouds and networks, to develop and grow their own digital services and business models. These deployments include the integration of infrastructure as a services (IaaS), platform-a- a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS), and other cloud-based services across hybrid/multi cloud environments.
  • Digital Ecosystem. The need for an even closer collaboration and cooperation of players within the healthcare ecosystem is crucial in accelerating the pace of innovation in healthcare. Digital ecosystems are where organizations collaborate on, subscribe to, and exchange digital services to participate in the digital economy. By building points of presence in direct proximity to healthcare ecosystems globally, healthcare organizations can build their innovation hubs for data exchange and collaboration, and integrate API-based digital services to create multi-party workflows.
  • Digital Edge. To create competitive advantage and transform their capabilities, organizations need to connect their digital presence with the physical world, where their operations, employees, customers, end-point applications and connected devices are. It’s at the edge (or the local metro city) where digital leaders are distributing their infrastructure in hubs closest to these stakeholders and devices. This enables improved omnichannel user experience for services like telehealth and home care. Organizations have also built local analytics capabilities to enable real-time decision-making to drive operational efficiencies, and to improve patient care.

Digital-first means digital business and technology strategies must become indistinguishable, with sustainability central, to close any organization performance gaps, expand opportunity and gain material returns on digital transformation efforts.

We will continue to partner with healthcare providers locally, across the region and world, to help them succeed in their digital transformation journeys and interconnect with their networks, clouds, and partners to accelerate smart healthcare. Download this to learn how healthcare and life sciences organizations in the Asia-Pacific region are innovating to keep up with an evolving landscape in the new normal.

[1] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-planning-for-a-new-normal-of-living-with-the-virus-says-pm

 

“To support the new ‘living with an endemic Covid-19’ way of life – where patient care increasingly shifts from hospital to home – healthcare providers need to accelerate their digital transformation.” Shehaan Fernando, Regional Director, Virtual Care at Philips
Rajaneesh Kurup
Rajaneesh Kurup Senior Manager, Segment Marketing