Digitalization is rapidly transforming care delivery, expanding precision medicine and is improving the patient experience.
It is also helping to address persistent challenges in the sector, such as the scarcity of skilled workers, especially in remote areas.
Hospital Insights Asia had the opportunity to discuss with Elisabeth Staudinger, President of Siemens Healthineers in Asia Pacific, on how digital technologies and big data could reshape the healthcare ecosystem, particularly in the context of the ongoing pandemic.
Transforming care delivery
Social distancing and lockdowns have restricted continuous care, forcing healthcare providers to reinvent their routines. Many turned to digital technologies that fortunately were already being adopted before COVID-19 unfolded. Telehealth and remote monitoring devices, among other digital technologies, are starting to gain more and more traction, with an expected growth to be at 18% through 2025.
In the face of the limitations the pandemic created, healthcare providers are even more embracing the concept of “moving information, not patients”. In this context, Siemens Healthineers’ remote scanning assistance, syngo Virtual Cockpit has been a game-changer for healthcare personnel. Experienced radiologists can offer comprehensive scanning assistance to an imaging technologist on site – regardless of their physical location. In cases requiring advanced skills and resources, technologists can always call on an expert for live support.
CT scanners could also be installed in containers to provide access to scanning in high-demand or isolated areas, thereby protecting both the staff and the patients, says Staudinger.
Digitalization also supports decision-making. “Given our lack of skilled professionals, it is crucial that they use their precious time to focus on patients,” emphasizes Staudinger. Surveys show that physicians and nurses often spend 70% of their time on administrative tasks, which could in fact be delegated to digital technologies. Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example, enables physicians to spend less time on documentation and more on providing patient care. AI, too, enables doctors to access relevant data faster and more seamlessly, thus helping them provide a more accurate diagnosis and better-informed decisions.
Improving patient experience
By applying digital technologies, patients can get quality care at the comfort of their homes. In doing so, non-urgent patients can be kept away from the overloaded hospitals and the risk of infection, not to mention the time and cost they save without needing to travel and having to wait for their turn. Home monitoring devices, telemedicine and teleconsultations thus play a crucial role in making this possible.
In addition, patients receive a more personalized and empowered experience. They have more transparency about their health and become active participants in their care as well as in the prevention of disease.
Expanding precision medicine
The patient population is growing and with it come more complex needs; thus, sticking with the “one-size-fits-all” approach would be ineffective. Staudinger and Siemens Healthineers share this vision, ambitious as it may be, that someday there will be digital twins of individual patients’ entire bodies. This provides a safe environment for testing possible treatment solutions, especially in highly intricate cases.
Digital twins, Staudinger explains, are digital companions designed to be more than just sophisticated anatomical models. “In addition to a patient’s clinical information, they could also contain cellular, molecular and genetic information,” she adds. In the long run, this technology could help healthcare providers with a better understanding of the patient’s disease, predict its course, and even allow them to test various types of intervention.
There are no limits as to where digitalization could take healthcare, transforming the way patients access care. We have proven this during the pandemic. Digital, as Staudinger opines, may really be the silver bullet to most of the healthcare industry’s problems.
At Siemens Healthineers, our mission is to enable healthcare providers to increase value by empowering them on their journey towards expanding precision medicine, transforming care delivery, and improving patient experience, all enabled by digitalizing healthcare. An estimated five million patients worldwide everyday benefit from our innovative technologies and services in the areas of diagnostic and therapeutic imaging, laboratory diagnostics and molecular medicine as well as digital health and enterprise services. We’re a leading medical technology company with over 120 years of experience and 18,500 patents globally. With over 50,000 employees in more than 70 countries, we’ll continue to innovate and shape the future of healthcare.