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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - JEDDAH — According to a recent report by Global Health Exhibition by Informa Markets, entitled ‘2019 Saudi Arabia Healthcare Industry Overview - Towards the healthcare goals of Saudi Vision 2030’, healthcare remains a top priority for the government in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In line with the government’s Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP), the Ministry of Health (MoH) is expected to spend close to $71 billion over five-years ending in 2020. There is also a significant rise in population with an increase in those over the age of 60 years, as well as the adoption of mandatory health insurance in the country.
Jamil Ahmad, country manager – Saudi Arabia at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, said “with the expected growth rates in the healthcare sector in the Kingdom, it is perhaps no wonder that current healthcare infrastructures are struggling to cope under the sheer volume of what they are expected to support. From 5G-enabled remote operations to patient apps, digital innovations are being deployed to try and mitigate these challenges. However, there is one missing piece of the technology puzzle required to bring these key developments together and ensure the healthcare sector can keep scaling up – and that can be found at the Edge.”
Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, recently developed a new book with Fast Future which aimed to uncover the wealth of possibilities set to be unlocked by Edge technologies over the next 3-5 years. Defined as technologies that allow the processing of data by devices at the Edge of networks, HPE Aruba has identified this as the next frontier. Moving processes and applications to the edge of the network will be imperative to enable the ongoing digital transformation of the healthcare industry. Here are three ways in which the Edge is set to reshape the world of healthcare.
IoT medical devices such as wearable sensors, blood glucose monitors, and healthcare apps are becoming increasingly common. All of these devices are collecting huge amounts of Patient Generated Health Data, allowing medical professionals to better diagnose problems and monitor health over long periods of time. However, there is no point collecting all this data is you can’t immediately use it, which is where the Edge comes into its own.
When using connected devices, clinicians need to access information as quickly as possible in order to make well-informed medical decisions – for an industry where a few seconds can literally be the difference between life and death any lag in delivery could be absolutely critical to the patient. By processing data at the edge of the network rather than transporting it back to the centre, Edge technologies are able to eliminate unnecessary latency and deliver far speedier results than traditional architectures.
Conducting data processing close to the patient is particularly important for those in remote areas. And without Edge technologies, the healthcare industry is less able to support these places. For example, lacking an internet connection prevents medical providers from being able to access centralised databases of patient data. Portable IoT healthcare equipment developed by edge computing companies has the ability to gather, store, generate, and analyze critical patient data without needing to be in constant contact with a network infrastructure. By interfacing with an edge data centre, IoT healthcare devices can extend the reach of existing networks, enabling medical personnel to access critical patient data even in areas with poor connectivity.
As well as improving and extending current practices, Edge technologies also have the potential to streamline existing operations and drive new revenue models within the healthcare industry.
With artificial intelligence and machine learning offering far greater analysis of patient data than ever before, healthcare organizations have a real opportunity to better understand the efficacy of treatments and medications, allowing better targeting and less waste. With the right analytics in place, the data could also be used to provide personalized guidance on lifestyle management, which could drive down practitioner and hospital visits and reduce treatment burden. That data will become more valuable over time and could be sold to pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies to help them improve their products.
The ability to monitor patient data at the point of care and improve remote services through Edge technologies, can transform patient outcomes, while also enhancing the ability of health professionals to deliver efficient care.
In short, the healthcare industry in Saudi Arabia stands to benefit immensely from Edge technologies. And with rising costs posing an ongoing threat to people’s access to healthcare services – these innovations, and their ability to boost efficiencies and deliver better value, should be embraced quickly. — SG
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