By Datuk Tan Seng Kit, Group Managing Director, Strateq Group,
Technology has been the great propellor for civilisation since the dawn of time. Innovation gave us the wheel, the steam engine and the internet which powered industrial revolutions and globalisation transforming businesses and the very way we go about our daily lives.
As someone who has been deeply involved in the business of implementing innovative technology to revolutionise industries, I can say from first-hand experience that potentially no other industry has been shifted so significantly by technology than healthcare and certainly none have had more substantial of an impact on the public as a whole – particularly in light of the past 2 years.
Technology has revolutionised the way our healthcare systems operate from managerial as well as execution levels. It has brought about new services and offerings, streamlined processes, and helped inform vital decisions all the while improving the overall quality of life and health leading to prolonged lifespans too.
The pandemic was a true and tough test for our healthcare systems. Around the world, healthcare owners, operators and workers were faced with an unprecedented situation. From a treatment perspective it was challenging to say the least, from a logistical and management perspective it was an equally difficult hurdle to overcome.
Yet the greatest minds be it scientists, engineers and numerous others came together and pushed the limits of innovation to make quantum leaps in technology that quite simply were necessary not only to aid in dealing with the peak of the pandemic but to accommodate to the new normal in this endemic phase that we are in now.
Through my role at the Strateq Group, I am intimately familiar with the healthcare industry these developments have been fascinating to see both because of their scientific and engineering accomplishments as well as for the long-term potential these innovations hold.
For instance, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already proved vital helping to make sense of huge amounts of unstructured data – something there was an abundance of during the on-set of the pandemic.
AI has been important in automating initial patient contact and triage freeing up healthcare workers to attend to other tasks. AI chatbots have also been vital in telemedicine, powered by natural language processing, to gather information on symptoms and direct inquiries to the right healthcare professionals.
Coupled together with big data, I see a future where AI can play an even more involved and important role. Taking learning from the pandemic, focus around preventative medicine has increased ensuring that in the future treatments can be more proactive rather than reactive.
AI makes it possible to create tools that can spot patterns across huge datasets far more effectively than traditional analytics processes, leading to more accurate predictions and ultimately better patient outcomes. In doing so, it will make it possible to predict with a greater level of accuracy where and when illness will occur and put solutions in place before it even happens.
I also believe other recent developments will play a substantial role moving forward. Remote healthcare and telemedicine have been a big talking point over the past two years as the healthcare industry has learnt first-hand the immense value of being able to treat patients remotely – whether from a space and logistics standpoint or from a health and safety perspective or even to help address the shortage of doctors that some countries are facing.
The pandemic saw a sharp rise in remote healthcare, the percentage of healthcare consultations that were carried out remotely shot up from 0.1% to 43.5% during the initial stages of the pandemic.
There are now even “virtual hospital wards” where centralized communication infrastructure is used to oversee the treatment of numerous patients, all in their homes.
These are just two subsets of tech innovations that have shaped healthcare recently, there are many more impressive leaps in technology that will set the pace for the industry moving forward.
Robots, machine learning and IoT are amongst the technology that will be critical in securing the future of healthcare. One in which medical experts will be able to work hand-in-hand with cutting edge technologies to provide more efficient and effective service and solutions to patients.
Coming off the pandemic reports indicate that, 80% of healthcare providers plan to increase investment in technology and digital solutions over the next five years. With this in mind, I believe we will continue to see growth across the industry. It is certainly exciting times, especially for those of us within the IT solutions industry as we stand to be a part of monumental leaps in technology that could secure a safer future for all.