A mission of mercy – technology and Mercy Ships

Posted on 25/06/2019
DISCLAIMER: this article is older than one year and may not be up to date with recent events or newly available information.

By Louise Öström, Vice President of Cloud EMEA

Introduction

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been talking about using technology, and more specifically cloud computing, for good. From farmers in Kenya to disaster relief and increasing the reach of education, irrespective of location, technology is being deployed as part of efforts to help those that might previously have been left behind.

We all benefit from technology every day – while it is important to be cognizant of how it is handled, it’s not hard to see the positive impact it can have. I can order food, my weekly shop, a book, watch a film, talk with someone on the other side of the world, all at the touch of a button.

These are all innovations, powered by cloud, that improve what is already a very high standard of living. Yet the point of this series has been to look at how technology can deliver a long-term change. Take healthcare – if I need basic or routine surgery and aftercare, I can trust that my local hospital has the tools, people and resources to deliver that.

That’s not always the case. Something that’s relatively straight forward for many of us is a luxury for others. That’s why today I wanted to look at one project that I’m deeply passionate about that is using technology, in this case using VXRail to help create a private cloud set up, to ensure people have access to basic healthcare, irrespective of where they are in the world: Mercy Ships.

Using cloud to give five billion people access to safe surgery

An international development organisation that deploys hospital ships to some of the poorest countries in the world, Mercy Ships delivers vital, free healthcare to people in desperate need.

It does this in two ways – by completing urgent operations onboard its floating hospitals, and by improving the way healthcare is delivered in its host countries. It does this through the training and mentoring of local medical staff, and by partnering with others in renovating hospitals and clinics.

It’s a fantastic cause which is enabling real, sustainable change. As a new article on Radius states, ‘For Mercy Ships, it’s not only about the technology, the ships, the volunteers or even the patients. It’s about the impact they leave behind.’

It relies on over 1,200 volunteers per year, which means it has a high turnover of personnel. This continual change meant it needed its on-ship IT systems to be easy to run and maintain.

Working with VMware and Dell EMC, Mercy Ships has been able to deploy a private cloud platform that dramatically simplifies IT operations and frees up volunteer time.

Chris Gregg, Mercy Ships CIO, says “Our hospital ships deliver vital, free, life-changing surgeries to people in desperate need in some of the poorest countries in the world. These ships are also a platform to train local healthcare professionals to build capacity in country. Thanks to VMware and Dell EMC, our team of incredible volunteers can focus on patient care and training.”

Thanks to the platform, Mercy Ships has been able to optimise the delivery of patient care.

This is getting IT out of the way and allowing the organisation to focus on its core goals.

In Mercy Ships’ case, that means being able to better address the five billion people worldwide lacking access to safe, affordable and timely surgery. Gregg sums it up in the piece on Radius when he says “What we do is amazing. I love being involved with how we can help those who are underserved, and I’m using technology to do that.”

From health to sustainability

Mercy Ships may be a unique approach to using technology to help deal with issues of providing modern healthcare to inaccessible locations.

That doesn’t mean that technology, or indeed cloud, for good is only for the developing world.

In my next post, I’ll be exploring how it is being used to help improve sustainability and assist in safeguarding the future of the planet.


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