Healthcare: Prepared for the future

Havier Haddad, General Manager, Gulf Region

In these uncertain times, health is certainly at the top of everyone’s priority list. COVID-19 has now spread to over 100 countries, infecting at least 120,000 people and is impacting livelihoods, global stock markets and organizations throughout to the world.

The Gulf Region is not exempt from its effects. School closures and e-learning initiatives have been announced, travel restrictions put in place and organizations are starting to see the effects on workforces, with employees increasingly working remotely, and offices even being closed.

One of the main concerns for governments is ensuring healthcare facilities are prepared to manage the potential influx of patients as the virus spreads, whilst attempting to minimize the possibility of further spread. Technology is one means which can ease the pressure on healthcare organizations during this challenging period.

Healthcare transformation can help across the board

Innovation has always been a key part of driving healthcare services forwards, from vaccinations to new treatments. The opportunities that emerging technologies can provide to healthcare organizations are undoubtedly going to push things to the next level.

Automation is crucial

In an industry which is so heavily dependent on human interaction, it may be surprising to consider the impact of automation. However, it can be hugely helpful in reducing the risk of human error, whilst allowing staff to focus on the caregiving aspect of their role, ultimately giving patients a better experience.

Outpatients can expect to receive their prescriptions from a robot in the near future, which will reduce the time taken to dispense prescriptions. Inpatient care is likely to see the automation of medication dispensing, enabling patients to receive the right medication on time, reducing the risk of human error. Automation also has the potential to process test results, speeding up this process for patients.

Harnessing data

Data is captured by health professionals on a daily basis, but it is difficult to pull insights from this on a mass level without time intensive analysis. Using automated analysis on a large scale can give insights that we as humans would struggle to ever discover, and when machine learning is added to the mix the possibilities are incredible.

Machine learning algorithms can pull correlations between data sets that humans may never consider, giving a better understanding of viruses, diseases and chronic conditions. This is hugely advantageous to allow early diagnosis and to discover new treatment.

Access, anywhere

One big challenge for healthcare organizations is providing access no matter where patients are, but connectivity is changing this. Telehealth options are predicted to grow massively in coming years, with consultations, monitoring and advice being provided remotely. In the case of COVID-19 the benefits of this would be great – allowing patients to self-isolate whilst still having access to professional advice online.

Taking this even further, the reduced latency which will come with the roll out of 5G is likely to allow surgeries to take place remotely using robots, theoretically allowing a consultant in New York to operate on a patient in Dubai remotely.

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