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Innovation: Healthcare’s beating heart

It’s hard to overstate the case for innovation in healthcare: it’s critical to being able to deliver better quality of lives.  We take a look at the increasingly digitally connected landscape for a couple of game-changing examples of innovation in action.

When we think of “innovation in healthcare” we may at first automatically think about new operations and medicines driven by a deeper understanding of medical conditions or taken from cumulative patient data.  But innovation touches all aspects of healthcare, and if healthcare companies are going to be able to deliver joined-up connected care, empower and inspire their staff, and ensure their platforms and systems are both cyber-secure and future-flexible, they need to nurture a culture of innovation that permeates the entire organisation.

Enabling remote ‘virtual health’ consultations

In a year which has seen an international pandemic, the increasing value of virtual consultations is an easy case to make.  Telemedicine in all its forms benefits patients who may not be able to easily visit a hospital and allows a healthcare practice to reach a larger number of patients without putting pressure on ward availability.

Patients today are proactive; they wish to have an equal-level partnership instead of a hierarchical dependence on physicians. They want to take part in the decisions that affect their health or medical condition; and contribute to that with data they measure at home.  This means that many patients are bringing their data, apps and sensors to the practices and expect caregivers to manage them.  It’s opening up new challenges: wherever data goes, threats follow.  In other words, cyber-security is a critical consideration.

Cybersecurity is (without meaning to state the obvious) not easy: it needs to be robust and failproof from minute 1, while being able to flex and adapt to changing needs.  Having the right platform is a big part of this.  For healthcare companies it’s about engaging technology partners with proven experience in delivering innovation securely, to map recommendations to the security lifecycle of the organisation so it can get the right solution to fit its changing needs.

Accelerating the IoMT

Whether it’s about empowering telemedicine and remote health monitors, AI-driven clinical trials or better digital tools for home-visit nurses, or robotic arms performing critical surgeries with surgeons controlling them from miles away, new technologies powered by cloud platforms and solutions are changing the face of medicine and care provision.  The so-called Internet of Medical Things is at the heart of this.

While it’s (relatively) early days for the IoMT, many see it as nothing less than a paradigm-shift for healthcare, which will put cutting-edge, connected technology in the hands of consumers and has the potential to gives both patients and physicians in the poorest and most remote locations an unprecedentedly improved access to – and expectation of – healthcare.  The benefits for all are not to be ignored and include far lower costs of care, more accurate diagnoses, and an increased perception of speed and visibility on the part of all parties.

Big Data is key: data has exploded in terms of velocity, variety and volume, so the IoMT is both driving this and reaping the benefits of it.  A recent report by Deloitte identifies the rise of IoMT as driven by “an increase in the number of connected medical devices that are able to generate, collect, analyze or transmit health data or images and connect to healthcare provider networks, transmitting data to either a cloud repository or internal servers.”

The CIO is at the heart of this.  In recent years the evolution of the CIO’s role has accelerated from IT gatekeeper to strategic organisational asset.  There’s an expectation on CIOs to provide the vision of what healthcare should look like; this includes promoting the IoMT.  Part of this is the imperative to future-proof systems for future innovation.

Aligning innovation to measurable cost-reduction

Ageing and increasing populations, higher quality medical services, advances in medical treatments and processes and the rising cost of labour are all driving up global health care spending.  Ageing infrastructure and managing legacy IT systems are also adding to the cost equation.  But healthcare today must be as efficient and cost-effective as possible to care for patients.

Putting cloud at the heart of operations gives healthcare organisations the full flexibility of both capex and opex expenditure models.  In cash-strapped health services, this enables them to deliver new levels of care.

IT leaders need services that can be installed and used quickly with minimum disruption.  They need scalable infrastructure, only paying for what they use and not what they might while also being able to cope with peaks and troughs of demand without hampering user experience.  Most important – they need results quickly.

A healthy outlook for Healthcare’s future

My previous blogs in this short series have touched on new thinking around connected care, collaboration, cybersecurity and the new digital workforce.  The one thing that joins all of these and moves them forward is innovation.  Healthcare companies need to set themselves up to nurture and sustain a culture of innovation, which isn’t as straightforward as it sounds – but having the right platforms and the right partners is a very good start.

VMware believe that healthcare is a fundamental right, and that patients and staff deserve nothing less than the best technology.  One of the many ways we demonstrate this is in helping larger hospitals incubate ‘startups’ and innovation hubs within them.  And we’ve helped the NHS improve operations, saving money and resources.

If you’d like to discuss how we can help you create a company that nurtures innovation for meaningful benefits, please get in touch.


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