Making digital transformation possible in healthcare

Digital transformation is not only about technology, but about change of culture, said Armin de Greiff, Head of IT, University Medicine Essen, Germany, on day 2 of VMworld.
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Digital transformation is not only about technology, but a change of culture, said Armin de Greiff, Head of IT, University Medicine Essen in Germany, on day 2 of VMworld hosted by VMware.

For India, which is in the early stages of modernising its healthcare infrastructure, there were some key takeaways from the healthcare track of VMworld, featuring de Greiff and Christopher Logan, Director Global Healthcare Industry Strategy of VMware:

1. Mining data is imperative

There is an abundance of data for healthcare organisations to use to develop and build machine-learning models on. The information can come from radiology, laboratory values, health monitoring systems, pathology, and genetics. Unification is vital.

Until now, the datasets were collected, but for individual processes that provided isolated insights. Now, “we are aggregating a lot of data,” de Greiff said. “So, the former silos of data, which are unrelated to each other—laboratory, pathology, genomics and so on—are all aggregated on one platform.”

2. Real-time connectedness is becoming important.

Logan pointed to a framework of connecting data and systems and providers with the idea around patient-centred care models. “It's putting people with the information they need in real time, to provide the highest quality of care in the best optimal outcome,“ he added.

3. Patients are better informed about health status.

“Nowadays, the patient comes with his own device, and his own data,” said de Greiff. “So,we have an informed patient. He asked Dr Google.”

Patients have access to numerous startups and technology companies that provide products and services such as online consultations, regular lab tests, and smart devices to track their data for long periods, and warn them about abnormal readings.

“They come up with their own ideas on how to deal with data,” he noted. Healthcare providers need to establish infrastructure to deal with these new demands to integrate the platform. But, they also need to develop their own platforms to make use of the data people are collecting themselves.

“We had to establish a continuous integration, so as not to have this typical situation that we only focus on one small issue flow," de Greiff said. "We want to have all the data together, aggregated in one space, annotated, harmonised, and so on, and we needed a very sophisticated, reliable platform.”

The hospital used the Tanzu platform to help build, run and manage applications for such tasks.

4. Modernising legacy systems in hospitals

Organisations are dealing with a mountain of technical debt and legacy systems,” Logan said. Such systems can slow down the transformation, and put customers' sensitive healthcare data at risk.

Organisations need resources, manpower and staff to manage the complexity of the operations, as they try to bridge the gap between legacy systems and the next generation of cloud applications.

5. The culture for smart hospitals

“We need to change with the culture,” de Greiff reiterated. “And to start the digital transformation, every single employee has to see why he or she started this journey,” he added. Only then can organisations be prepared for smart hospitals in the future.

Edited by Kunal Talgeri

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