A deeper look at how digital IT is changing healthcare

Avaya’s Frederick Sabty and SAP’s Hichem Maya delve into the digital technologies driving healthcare

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A deeper look at how digital IT is changing healthcare Frederick Sabty: "The patient experience has become a key competitive differentiator in the healthcare industry, and solutions are now designed to bring together the entire hospital as a unified and collaborative entity."
By  Alexander Sophoclis Pieri Published  September 22, 2017

ACN: Could you start by giving a brief overview on the type of offerings Avaya delivers for the healthcare sector?

Frederick Sabty: Our solutions ultimately contribute to delivering an exceptional patient journey — from routine services to urgent care. This experience is delivered through healthcare IoT solutions, multi-channel collaboration solutions, virtual contact centres that connect patients with healthcare providers, and technologies that enable remote care for patients anywhere in the world. Especially when it comes to team communications, in healthcare this can literally be a life or death scenario.

ACN: From your perspective, how would you say end-user demand in the healthcare has changed over the past few years in regards to technological adoption? What challenges/issues are they hoping to overcome?

FS: It really comes down to how technology can be used as a tool for driving efficiency, automating operations as well as improving patient outcomes. The patient experience has become a key competitive differentiator in the healthcare industry, and solutions are now designed to bring together the entire hospital as a unified and collaborative entity.

By identifying areas where instant collaboration between specific teams is urgent and requires instant team formation, Avaya recently partnered with a leading hospital in Saudi Arabia to develop an automated alert system that can bring assigned teams to specific scenarios together to take quick decisions.

This system has been rolled out to manage emergency situations, receive and dispatch emergency calls and send alerts to specific groups within the hospital to respond.

Nevertheless, technology in healthcare does bring unique challenges. The highest standards must be met for patient security and safety at all times, with patients needing to have absolute confidence that their data is safe. Therefore, creating applications that can enhance the patient experience and improve the healthcare operator’s efficiency can be more challenging than in other industries.

People today are well aware of what good technology experiences look like and feel like — so why wouldn’t they expect to receive those experiences from their healthcare provider?

ACN: Internet-of-Things has of late gained a lot of traction within the healthcare space. What sort of opportunities and challenges does IoT present?

FS: Networked devices are prevalent in hospitals today — a growing number of nurses and doctors have already transitioned away from clipboards and paper to Wi-Fi-enabled communications devices and tablet computers. However, in the rush to introduce Internet-connected devices, some hospitals are opening themselves up to additional risk. Left unsecured, these devices represent an additional point of exposure for the network.

ACN: Can you discuss a little bit about your involvement with healthcare chatbot and what application such programs have in healthcare?

FS: People are starting to demand so much more from their healthcare providers in terms of the channels that they use to communicate with them. For example, we’ve seen a massive increase in things like social media use over the last few years.

In turn, we’ve started to see some of these channels come to the fore in healthcare organisations, and that’s really where chatbots come in.

Individuals quite often want to use self-service channels to find the information they need — from appointment times to medication instructions, insurance information, and more. It’s all about delivering integration of social customer service channels as well as automation for a seamless user experience.

ACN: How do you see artificial intelligence in healthcare continuing to evolve moving forward? Are there any areas where AI has some potential?

FS: At Avaya, we’re taking significant steps into the AI arena and are working on a SaaS self-learning chatbot that businesses can use with all types of social media platforms to improve the customer service they offer. It works by leveraging self-learning artificial intelligence technologies to model customer language and dialogue interactions. As such it’s able to predict customer preferences and resolve problems — almost before the customer knows they have one.

ACN: Could you start by sharing some brief details about your projects in the region in relation to healthcare?

Hichem Maya: In the Middle East, SAP co-innovates with many of the leading healthcare providers on driving connected hospitals, in support of nationwide digital transformation agendas that are driving investment in healthcare innovations.

Al-Mishari Hospital in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has deployed the in-memory SAP HANA computing platform and SAP Healthcare Information Systems, supporting Saudi Vision 2030 private sector healthcare innovation goals. Using a real-time digital platform, Al-Mishari Hospital is enhancing collaboration, operations, and planning, and enabling personalised healthcare solutions such as automated appointments, digital patient records, and telemedicine.

Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi, has deployed the SAP Healthcare Information Systems to automate scheduling, operating, and ordering, as part of a wider hospital-wide digital transformation agenda. As a result, healthcare providers can focus on delivering patient care, using innovations such as digital patient records on tablets.

VPS Healthcare in the UAE is leveraging the SAP partnership with channel partner iMED to roll out managed cloud as a service solutions across its hospitals and healthcare clinics to enhance patient care and hospital operations, and inspire game-changing healthcare innovations.

ACN: What are some of your typical solutions/offerings that you deliver for the healthcare space?

HM: As a digital transformation enabler, SAP is dedicated to delivering value-based personalised healthcare for healthcare providers across the Middle East, exchanging global best practices with healthcare leaders and providing at the same time an open platform for innovation.

Using healthcare solutions running on the SAP S/4HANA real-time business suite, SAP HANA in-memory platform, and SAP Leonardo digital innovation system, healthcare providers can deliver a digital network for a new consumer-centric healthcare ecosystem that improves patient care and optimises costs. Healthcare providers can share digital patient records and billing in real time with patients, and support personalised interaction and self-care.

In particular, SAP is seeing strong Middle East demand for the SAP EMR Unwired solution, which allows caregivers to access patient information on handheld devices, and the SAP Health for Patient Engagement, which provides mobile apps, remote monitoring, and dashboard views of health and activity data.

ACN: Could you elaborate more on SAP’s partnerships with CancerLinq, Castlight Health, and Dharma Platform, and how these partnerships impact SAP’s offerings in healthcare?

HM: The SAP Connected Health platform, running on the in-memory SAP HANA platform, is bringing together a wide range of partners, developers, researchers, and healthcare providers to accelerate innovations that can enhance patient care and reduce costs. SAP is exchanging best practices from CancerLinq, Castlight Health, and Dharma Health, all recently joined the platform, with Middle East healthcare providers.

CancerLinQ connects and analyses real-world cancer care data from electronic records to make a universe of practice treatment insights accessible to clinicians to improve the care of every patient with cancer. Castlight Health provides an interoperable data platform that engages with employees to make better healthcare decisions, and enables leaders to communicate and measure their benefits programs.

Dharma Platform captures data to help field healthcare workers to collect, understand, and analyse medical data in challenging field situations, especially useful in areas that are facing rapidly-spreading diseases and epidemics.

ACN: In what ways is Big Data and analytics transforming how healthcare providers deliver their services?

HM: Big Data and analytics are transforming the Middle East healthcare experience by bringing together disparate data for one single and accurate digital patient profile, for patients, healthcare providers, and insurance companies.

For example, one recent industry study shows that a digital core can enable a healthcare provider to check medical records 40% faster compared to manual processes. At the same time, Big Data analytics can also enhance time and costs, especially in having healthcare providers track their physical assets and have real-time patient scheduling.

On a wider level, SAP has joined forces with a wide range of healthcare providers and innovators to form the Surveillance and Outbreak Management and Analysis System to help fight the spread of diseases such as Ebola and MERS. Data from field workers, community hotlines, and health facilities is analyses on the SAP HANA cloud platform in real-time, helping healthcare providers to predict where the disease will spread, and mobilise medical suppliers.

ACN: Are there any emerging technologies that you believe will have a dramatic impact on healthcare, five years from now?

HM: Five mega-trends are scaling together and driving digital innovation across the Middle East: hyper-connectivity, with every patient, organisation, and machine connected; super-computing that can enable genome sequencing; cloud computing that can connect millions of healthcare users; the “smart” world of wearables, sensors, robotics, and 3D printing that can turn data into decisions; and cybersecurity, which must be a top priority to fend off cyber-attacks.

In the coming years, emerging technologies that will transform Middle East healthcare include the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and machine learning. IoT can drive real-time insights and business models, artificial intelligence and machine learning can make clinical decisions more fact-based and analyse how treatments have worked for previous users, and blockchain can make “smart” contracts that process claims, payments, and reimbursement faster and more accurately.

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