Technology and the Internet of things (IoT) hold great promise to improve patient care and well-being. Internet-connected infusion pumps, imaging machines, blood-glucose sensors, and myriad more devices can automatically share valuable data to a person’s electronic health record (EHR). This is according to Europe, Middle East, Asia (EMEA), Africa APS Senior Director at Avaya, Emir Susic, who goes on to describe how healthcare providers in the EMEA region are turning to technology to deliver the digital patient experience.
Countries in the region are making transformation of healthcare services a key priority as they look to improve the wellbeing of their citizens. We are seeing major initiatives to leverage technology to improve healthcare delivery in the region, such as in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has included providing a world-class healthcare system in its UAE Vision 2021 strategy. Likewise, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made improving healthcare delivery a key plank of its Vision 2030.
Adopting smarter technologies
We can expect to see network-connected healthcare ‘aides’ playing an ever-greater role in delivering healthcare. Just imagine, “smart beds” that automatically detect if they’re occupied – or if a patient has gone walkabout – and can track the quality of the patient’s sleep. Wearables and implants can measure a patient’s vital statistics, continuously log data and report, in real-time, any abnormalities to the appropriate clinical staff.
We’re not talking some far-distant future here either – a report last year from IDC indicated that enterprise mobility will have penetrated over 80% of MEA healthcare organisations by 2017, with over a third of organisations having already deployed corporate smart devices. Hospitals are increasingly looking to technology solutions to proactively advance patient care and improve outcomes.
Healthcare organisations also understand that technology is a tool for driving efficiency and streamlining operations as well as improving patient outcomes. Networked devices are prevalent in hospitals already, with a growing number of nurses and doctors having transitioned away from clipboards and paper to WiFi-enabled communications devices and tablet computers.
Healthtech’s unique challenges
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.
In addition to those challenges is that healthcare operators’ patients are also other companies’ customers and employees – and have correspondingly have high expectations of the experience they are looking to receive. People today are well aware of what good technology experiences look like and feel like – so why wouldn’t they expect to receive those good experiences from their healthcare provider.
Many patients are all too familiar with this scenario when going to an emergency room for a medical crisis. In a high-stress time, the patient will likely have to answer questions about their medical history, insurance details, and so on before they can be seen to by an attending care practitioner. That practitioner will then refer them to a physician or other medical staff member – at which point the patient will likely have to give their details again!
Meeting patient expectations
While forward-thinking organisations are addressing these challenges, other healthcare organisations need to enter the digital era. Companies today don’t want to risk losing customers as a result of a bad experience – and healthcare providers can’t afford to think differently.
The reality is that traditional business communications have failed to keep pace with consumer-focused technological devices. The simplicity, built-in intelligence and sophistication of today’s devices have taught consumers that it’s not difficult to have satisfying, tailored experiences – every time. If healthcare providers want to improve the patient’s well-being, they need to provide the experiences patients want.