Tuesday, 17 December 2019 18:00

Thriving in an age of longevity, technology and personalisation

By Glenn Uidam Equinix

Glenn Uidam, Senior Director, IBX Operations, Equinix Australia

GUEST OPINION: SPONSORED NEWS. There’s a vast difference between living and living well. Between surviving and thriving. For Australians, technology has already resulted in impressive improvements to the way in which we live, but the opportunity to do more is enormous.

To date, there has been a focus on using technology to reduce cost and time on certain tasks in healthcare. Digitising administrative tasks within hospitals and doctors’ offices, has seen the systems and processing times become more efficient. This is an important part of setting the right foundation for more effective health and wellbeing in the long term. But it is simply only the beginning.

This was made clear in a report released a year ago which shows an experience perception gap between health consumers and doctors, with 42 per cent of consumers rating our healthcare system as “excellent” or “very good”, compared with 62 per cent of doctors.

Underlying this gap is the fact that consumers want to participate more in their healthcare decision-making. Increasingly, they also expect a system that is easier and simpler to deal with, according to the Ernst and Young Future of Health Survey.

To get there, healthcare providers must start by examining patients’ experiences throughout the healthcare system to identify opportunities for simplification and participation. Given Australia’s vast geography, this will mean greater decentralisation – helping people access care wherever they might be, among other changes.

Creating this reimagined healthcare system will require smarter, well informed, real-time decision-making around prevention, diagnosis and treatment in order to close this perception gap.

There is exponential growth in the speed with which potentially transformative solutions are coming to market to address these challenges and opportunities. Edge computing, cloud, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics, all hold huge potential to change how, where and when we give and receive medical care.

A shift to greater decentralisation, consumerisation and personalisation in healthcare requires strategic planning and investment from the backend forward. Without finding ways to integrate these technologies with medicine and the increasing amount of data they have at their fingertips – genetic, biometric, medical, and more - healthcare providers will be left vulnerable to disengagement by patients and disruption by competitors.

Healthcare providers looking to effectively and efficiently rise to the challenge are partnering beyond their sector. They are starting to engage in real-time, secure communications and data exchange with a myriad of business partners, health ecosystems and network/cloud providers.

We’re seeing increased demand from Australian healthcare providers for global interconnection as one of the key foundational elements of this emerging model. Interconnection offers a secure, high-bandwidth connection with near-zero latency that bypasses the public Internet entirely.

This kind of secure connectivity enables direct private traffic exchange between key business partners in real-time, from any location, ensuring that life-saving data and insights are delivered to the right people, at the right place, at the right time. By bringing healthcare providers closer to their patients, customers, suppliers, government departments and cloud providers, they create safe, agile,cost-effective, digital-enabled services for personalised, outcome-based patient care. A market study recently published by Equinix, the Global Interconnection Index, predicts that interconnection growth in the healthcare and life sciences sector across the Asia-Pacific will increase by 75 per cent over the next five years in light of demand for these types of benefits. https://www.equinix.com/gxi-report/

If healthcare providers can get the experience right, improving the lives of both patients and medical staff by introducing a more patient-centred, digitally-driven healthcare system, society is in for a huge windfall worth $8.5 billion over the next five years, according to Ernst and Young.

It’s time to close the gap – between what consumers and providers think about their healthcare experience – and between providers and their patients, customers, suppliers, and technology partners. It’s time to create a healthcare system that’s fit for purpose in an age of longevity, technology and personalisation.

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