Resilience in healthcare: digital strategies for strong health systems

    Resilience in healthcare

    The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged healthcare like never before. Across the globe, governments, hospitals, clinics and frontline workers have had to face added pressures of tracking and tracing new infections, treating COVID-19 patients on top of usual duties, maintaining the flow of medical supplies, respecting social distancing measures, and more – straining an already under resourced system.

    Out of this crisis, observers in other industries have noted that the equivalent of 10 years of innovation has happened in 10 months. Similarly, PwC Singapore’s Health Industries Leader said that the pandemic accelerated the arrival of what he calls the New Health Economy – or the future of healthcare.

    This future is resoundingly digital. In many countries, healthcare institutions are turning to telehealth services, digital therapeutics, diagnostics, remote patient monitoring and data analytics to close the distance between provider and patient, and provide proactive, personalised and better-quality healthcare. If there’s anything that the pandemic has shown us, it is the enormous potential of digital technologies to help us rise to future challenges.

    What it means to be resilient

    As we move out of the crisis, how can we ensure that healthcare becomes future fit? New challenges are likely to arise again, and we need systems that allow healthcare institutions to withstand these disruptions, and to respond with speed and agility.

    For a start, countries are beginning to respond by building a common digital infrastructure to break down data siloes and enhance healthcare decision-making. In the Netherlands, the pandemic triggered the government to establish a national portal for the digital exchange of COVID-19 patient records. In Germany, 72 million citizens became legally entitled to a national patient record earlier this year, and the country is continuing to push for a common health data sharing framework on the European Union (EU) level.

    Moving down to the organisational level, healthcare institutions can also capitalise on the innovation spurred by COVID-19 by doubling down communication technologies, telehealth services, data analytics capabilities and supply chain management to build agility and resilience into their operations.

    Tips for building resilience in healthcare

    Improve staff connectivity and mobility
    During times of natural disasters, workplace accidents or future pandemics, hospital staff and frontline workers need to keep up to date with the rapidly changing situation on the ground. During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare teams were constantly grappling with evolving case numbers, changing measures and regulations, and more.

    Giving healthcare members mobile computers that allow for real-time communications and collaboration will help facilitate the flow of information. Intelligent in-vehicle edge gateways also enhance communication between ambulances and the control tower, enhancing dispatch decisions and first-aid care. This way, hospitals, clinics and ambulatory services can respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of the situation, improving healthcare outcomes especially in times when they are needed most.

    These laptops, tablets or other devices should come equipped with enterprise grade security and speedy connectivity to protect hospital and patient data while ensuring that urgent information is sent and received in a timely, reliable manner.

    Invest in telehealth services
    A recent Frost & Sullivan report noted that we’re experiencing “a radical telehealth expansion”. In the US, its annual projected compound growth rate jumped from just over 28 percent to almost 40 percent from pre- to post-COVID, while remote patient monitoring is projected to grow 150 percent in this year alone.

    Telehealth services are integral to healthcare resilience and business continuity. Nowadays, hospitals are seeking to minimise risk by keeping non-essential personnel and non-urgent or vulnerable cases away from their premises. Innovative telecare solutions for remote diagnosis and support closes the gap – allowing hospitals to provide continued care through digital channels, while maintaining a human touch.

    Double down on data analytics

    The first step to effective data analytics is a robust system to collect and organise data. Healthcare institutions need to determine what data to collect and how – for example, RFID tags to track patient movement, sensors to monitor building system integrity, powerful software to stay on top of surgeries and schedules.

    The next step is building intelligence into these systems. Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are taking big strides every day. Applied to the healthcare sector, they could speed up screening processes and efficiently match patients with required services, turn data into personalised insights to enhance care, or forecast catastrophes that will overwhelm resources and supplies.

    Viewed through the lens of resilience, data analytics helps healthcare institutions to stay abreast of minute changes in the environment, teasing out insights that will lead to timely action to deal with all manner of disruptions and challenges. On a day-to-day basis, analytics helps to free up time and resources, and opens up new avenues for tailored and higher quality healthcare.

    Strengthen the supply chain

    There is no talking about resilience without talking about supply chains. The COVID-19 pandemic put a visible strain on medical resources worldwide as demand for masks, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other healthcare equipment ramped up. As we transition into the new normal, medical institutions need to adapt their supply chains and collaborate where there are gaps to urgently address these issues.

    Healthcare institutions should consider investing in advanced digital capabilities. The primary aim should be to gain visibility across the supply chain to stay ahead of future disruptions. Now is also the time to drive scenario modelling and plan for the imagined challenges of the future, to build greater agility and resilience in supply chain operations.

    Towards a future-fit healthcare system

    Many of the building blocks of a resilient healthcare system are in place. The healthcare sector is data-rich, and COVID-19 has only accelerated the adoption of digital capabilities that are well suited to the requirements of the future. If built on a solid core digital infrastructure and robust security, then healthcare institutions are in good stead to provide efficient, reliable and humane care services through both peaceful and challenging times.

    Recommended products for hybrid learning

    • ASUS IoT Smart Healthcare Solutions include a wearable devices for personal preventive healthcare in the home and beyond; intelligent equipment for use in hospitals, such as a digital, portable ultrasound scanner and an AI-powered ICD-10 coding assistant; an innovative telecare solution for providing remote diagnosis and support; and an in-vehicle management system for ambulances and other mobile medical vehicles.
    • ASUS Chromebook Detachable CZ1 laptopis packed with protective features, including a wrap-around rubber trim, shockproof cover and durable 3D-textured finish. It features a free-angle adjustable stand cover and full-size keyboard with 1.5 mm key travel, plus an ErgoLift design — all to facilitate productivity, flexibility and comfort. With a garaged stylus, a world-facing camera and an all-day battery life, CZ1 is perfect for improving hospital staff and frontline workers’ connectivity and mobility.
    • ASUS ExpertBook B7 Flip is an enterprise-level, 5G-enabled premium laptop that’s designed to the next level . Working on the go is easier than ever with a lightning-fast data connection and your own personal secure network. The 360°-flippable design removes any limitations on how you work. ExpertBook B7 Flip also features 16:10 screen, providing larger visual workspace for reading articles, viewing websites, or working on spreadsheets. Plus, there’s a built-in smart-card reader that can be used as a secondary patient ID check for enhanced device.

    1 5G is an optional feature on selected models. 5G speeds vary and require optimal network and connection quality (factors include frequency, bandwidth and congestion); contact your network operator for information on availability.