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DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY


Health patterns, human behaviour when asleep or when suffering from a certain condition can provide carers with important information so that the care can be tailored to those who need it most. In the increasingly cost-driven social


care sectors, innovators are seeing early adopters as care planning and medication delivery moves away from paper-based systems to cloud-hosted software solutions. Monitoring vulnerable people while sleeping is never an easy process, it takes a lot of staff time, risks disturbing those in care and can lead to related health issues in the long term. With AI we are now able to determine when sleep is happening and when other life or health-threatening situations have arisen, this then enables action to be taken when its necessary, freeing up carers time to perform other tasks. AI is also developed to control the environment in which we care for patients and the vulnerable, where for example temperature control and mood lighting is automated depending upon the activities taking place, here both patients and carers see improved outcomes and better working conditions. If a digital transformation can improve health outcomes, create nicer environments, save time and money, and reduce waste in terms of paperwork, why


is it taking such a long time for health care organisations to adopt it? I would suggest that reluctance is due to more than one thing and will include the following. Culture. Today, technology is being


deployed into hospitals using methods of installation dating back to the 1960s and 1970s. Those making these decisions today were trained by those who made the decisions back then. However, those who have grown up using smart technology are starting to question these traditions and, as they replace previous generations, are more welcoming of innovation and doing things differently. Risk. Nobody ever got the sack for


buying ‘XYZ’. Those of us who remember what ‘XYZ’ stands for will be well aware that ‘XYZ’ was not the cheapest and often not the most appropriate solution. When new technology is developed there will always be those who want to be first. However, when the lives of those in care is at risk, a more conservative, risk-aware approach should always be considered. There is a fine balance to be achieved where adopting new technology might put lives at more risk than doing nothing. Cost. The first mobile phone was not only large in stature but was also extremely expensive. Economies of scale can only come about when a product or solution is so good that it sells in


significant volume so as to cover the cost of development thereby reducing its price. That is always going to be difficult for manufacturers unless they have large investors happy to fund a loss-leading product from the start. Most entrepreneurial organisations launching new technology tend to be at the other end of the financial scale, often small non- commercial innovators. This brings with it added risk of business failure part way through a solution roll out.


The roles of technology providers Apart from smart devices, AI, what else is fuelling the digital transformation? I suggest that is simply the need to save money, allied to speeding up the processes from diagnosing conditions, administering admissions, deciding on the correct course of treatment and ultimately providing positive outcomes. If processes and treatments can be carried out more quickly, then in theory more people will be treated, more will have a positive outcome and more will live out their lives happily and free of health concerns. That has to be the ultimate goal in any society. Yet only when healthcare organisations have the shackles of political doctrine, media censure and outdated culture and practices removed will this ever be


IFHEDigest Providing insights into the vast field of healthcare engineering and facility management IFHE DIGEST 2021 81


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