In an interview with ETHealthworld, Chris Sullivan, Global Healthcare Practice, Leader for Zebra Technologies, talks on how technology is revolutionalising the healthcare delivery. Edited excerpts:
Q. IoT is seeing huge investments in Indian healthcare industry. How do you think IoT will be able to revolutionize healthcare as we know today?
Ans. IoT is really going to make a major difference in healthcare. It is going to make healthcare safer, it is going to make the quality of care more accurate, more consistent, and it also has an ability to make healthcare less expensive as well. So healthcare IoT really is exciting for Indian healthcare. I think it can make a nice difference in people’s lives.
Q. What are the opportunities and potential for healthcare in coming future?
Ans. The opportunities are to make less mistakes when delivering care. When there is a mistake in healthcare, it can result in people having unfortunate outcomes such as medical death or an error in their medication that causes bad side effect. So the automation of healthcare can make things smoother and more accurate. Technology can also help more people get healthcare. IoT has a great promise of bringing healthcare to people who live in rural areas. IoT has the ability to help people at their homes. So the future of healthcare is going to improve a lot with investments in healthcare technology.
Q. What are Zebra’s service offerings in healthcare sector and is it a growth sector for your business?
Ans. Healthcare is the fastest growing part of our business. The reason that it is such a fast growing part of our business is because the opportunities for healthcare in technology are big. Zebra is focusing in three specific areas in healthcare. We focus in accurate identity of patient care process. Accurate identity is recognizing the patient accurately, it’s recognizing the blood specimens accurately, recognizing the medications and the assets in the hospital. Its making sure that the entire patient care treatment is done correctly. We do that through technology that automates the matching of the patient to the right care steps within healthcare. That’s our first and most popular part of our healthcare business. We also are very involved with clinical mobility. Bringing healthcare information mobily, helping the clinicians and the nurse and the physician have all the information they need on their fingertips. Helping them communicate with other people better as well.
Q. What can we expect from the healthcare scene in the next few years?
Ans. I think within India what we should expect to see is some of the most innovative and progressive institutions leading the way with big IoT investments. Our company is talking with some of these organizations this week and we are looking to improve the patient flow process, looking to automate the steps of when a patient’s bed received, looking to have real time information, so knowing when the patient is admitted, when the patient is seen by a physician and when the patient is discharged. Looking at that in a live real-time way to providing better patient experience. So I think you’re going to see investments from leading institutions. And from the leading institutions you will see adoption from the rest of India healthcare behind that.
Q. What opportunities does Zebra see after its partnership with GE Healthcare?
Ans. The GE Healthcare partnership for Zebra is an exciting partnership. And what that’s doing for ourselves and especially for the patients is its helping the clinicians find their assets. A typical hospital could have 8,000-9,000 different medical devices in the building. And they are used very often and it’s difficult to find and locate them. So what we have done is we’ve put intelligent tags around the devices. We have provided locationing solution technology into the hospital and we will help GE healthcare deliver a solution that provides the information that the clinicians need. The reason that is important is because we all want the nurses and doctors to spend the time with their patient. When they can’t find the equipment and the instruments, it’s taking them away from the patient and its making them less effective in care. That solution also is helping save money, because things get lost inside hospitals, they’re very big. And things can disappear and so having visibility to the instruments and the equipment is what the GE Zebra solution is doing.
Q. Any other collaboration in India or globally that you would like to talk about?
Ans. Yes. Zebra has global relationships with over 30 different healthcare software companies. These are the companies that make the electronic health record products, the lab information systems and the pharmacy information systems, so Zebra is partnering with software companies to bring better healthcare together. Some examples of companies that we are working with globally also include IBM, looking at smart hospital systems and smart hospital solutions with IBM as well.
Q. What are the new products that Zebra has recently launched in APAC and how do you think it will benefit the healthcare industry?
Ans. Zebra has two new products that are really exciting. The first one is a mobile computer which is basically a healthcare designed smartphone that provides the clinicians the ability to communicate to each other in real time. It enables the clinicians to pull down patient health records in real time. It also enables the clinicians to do automation of work steps such as scanning and picture taking of medical images and many things along those lines. The ability to communicate and collaborate better is what this mobile computers doing and its proving already to be quite successful with that. We also have a product that’s quite new and exciting which is a Zebra handheld scanner. This scanner enables medication administration to be delivered in healthcare accurately. Medications with barcoding and automated technology make a difference in the safety of the patient. So we have designed a scanner specifically for healthcare that makes it safer and also makes the workflow easier for the clinicians.
Q. How is Zebra’s Enterprise Asset Intelligence solutions providing a smarter healthcare?
Ans. Smarter healthcare is happening and Zebra is contributing to that. We are bringing enterprise asset intelligence in three different ways to the hospital. We are bringing smart patient information, smart asset information and also smart employee information. Which means we can bring visibility to the work they’re doing. If you’re in a busy hospital, there could be 2,000 people, there could be 8 different floors, and there could be 1000s of different assets. It’s very big and complex and things move fast. It’s very hard to know what’s happening. So Zebra is brining enterprise asset intelligence which brings visibility and information together. It makes the healthcare process work smarter, it makes the hospital work smarter. And when you do that we also bring internet of things smart devices. We have different parts of the hospital talking to each other. So as an example, the clinician can look at the mobile computer and can see the vital signs of the patient or see the most recent lab results that came out the diagnostic laboratory.
Q. Can you tell us something about your future plans or expansion plans?
Ans. Our future plans are to move more into the software services for our devices. What we have learnt is that having the best products in healthcare are not enough. We also need to make sure the products work well with other companies. So we are putting a lot of energy and investments towards making our products interoperable and so we are bringing device visibility software solutions to our products. It takes the tracking and real time capabilities of healthcare and make it even better because it makes it easier to manage and more successful to implement.