Category: AmCham News
Technology is constantly changing the way we live our lives, as well as how jobs and commerce are performed. Behind these technological advances are companies pushing the envelope to meet demands from busier, growing populations. With less time on our hands, the necessity to have up-to-date information continues to grow in importance.
From the time we wake up in the morning – looking at the weather forecast, checking traffic or the bus to work, purchasing a ticket, making reservations for travel or a meal – we are connected, and using apps and web shops. The concern for the average user and customer is simply that the information is always available and accurate without the need to know how it got there. However, for the companies behind the apps and web shops, who are dependent on their continual operation, the picture is different.
For applications to run, they need a base to operate from – and one that is secure. Owners need to know that the application will be safe from the challenges of traffic overloads, complex data transactions 24/7, and sometimes threats to cyber security. AmCham member Basefarm was established to meet the hosting and application management needs for companies that operate IT-infrastructures running mission-critical business applications (often times dependent on application revenue). With the advantage of data centers located locally, the company is uniquely able to host and manage applications providing constant availability.
Perhaps more important than the data centers themselves are the real heroes performing the maintenance, management and constant monitoring of applications and data centers – a team of young, highly educated professionals who are quickly able to identify and fix challenges as they come up, and proactively advise on IT-related topics. Around the clock, they are available through their service desk to help ensure applications stay up and running and that it’s back to business as usual should anything occur.
We are ready to see the patient, where are they?
Most of us are fortunate not to make frequent visits to the hospital. But when that time comes and a visit is necessary, we are all certainly familiar with intermittent visits by doctors and nurses, commonly in-between what can be extended wait times. As patients, we understand that we have to wait because medical personnel are busy, presumably with other patients. Behind the scenes, however, they are also busy with a number of other tasks: finding patient information, finding supplies and open rooms, even finding the right ones themselves.
Historically, paper documentation has been the reference point for logistical records in hospitals – a relatively inefficient (and inaccessible) system in a world where constantly updated information is available in everyone’s pockets. The result is extra time used on non-core tasks, unnecessarily stealing both health professionals’ and patients’ time. Sonitor Technologies – an Oslo based technology firm founded in 1997 and aboard AmCham since 2013 – therefore aims to increase the efficiency of medical care facilities through real time location system (RTLS) technology. Using a combination of ultrasound positioning and Wi-Fi networks, the location of people and resources (think everything from beds and supplies to vital machines) can be updated nearly instantaneously. This is all done using small cost-effective wireless sensors, mostly running on common batteries.
As medical costs continue to rise, increased efficiency is vital, especially in the US and Norway where healthcare costs, per capita, are the highest in the world. Healthcare systems and hospitals implementing Sonitor Technologies’ RTLS systems are able to quickly move to patient-centric systems, benefitting all stakeholders. ‘OR’ output has increased by as much as 20% in hospitals using Sonitor’s systems and at sites like Sanford Health in North Dakota patient throughput has been reduced by several minutes and they have noted as a result that their waiting rooms may be too large. This is not only about cost savings – having the ability to spend time on more essential tasks, health personnel are able to get the job done quicker, reducing unnecessary time spent on site. Medicare reimbursements in the US are connected with patient satisfaction scores, incentivizing quality and timely service. Efficient use of all parties’ time can help reduce extended lag times in both the waiting and treatment rooms.
Efficiency is only part of the equation for RTLS benefits. Knowing where people and resources are also enables the ability to identify where some people and resources should not be, translating to more secure environments. Not only preventing malicious activity, RTLS systems can help prevent a patient with dementia from wandering off unsafely or quickly identify the location of someone who has fallen or experiencing an emergency.
Tracking more than equipment
More than logistical information, an electronic database would ideally enable the healthcare network to access one comprehensive, uniform medical index for terminology of treatment, medical records, equipment, etc. Embracing system integration would alleviate inefficiencies and provide a proper foundation on which to implement a more modernized approach. Standing in the way of this, partly, is the fact that there is not a perfectly standard set of terminology when entering patient information for administrative purposes. A broken toe in Oslo may be entered differently than a broken toe in Bergen.
Code standardization paves the way for the transfer of unstructured data to structured electronic medical records (EMR). At the same time, moving a massive amount of data – and establishing the infrastructure to do so – is no basic task. AmCham IT industry specialist CSC has great global experience in providing the foundation for healthcare facilities to take the next step in modernization. Known largely in Norway for their work within the finance sector, CSC has 8,000 employees focused on healthcare issues alone worldwide and foresees potential for changes implemented in the Norwegian healthcare industry over the next five to ten years.
CSC sees the healthcare industry being shaped by paradigm-shifting factors such as change to a patient-centric approach and new funding principles. The patient-centric model produces direct effects, such as decreased wait time and increased staff-patient care. Medical professionals have begun to practice population health management, a strategy which advocates proactive prevention versus reactive treatment. Professionals intervene to preempt a cause for treatment instead of waiting until a patient becomes sick or injured – with the key component being data management.
Population health management necessitates a transition from unstructured data to structured electronic medical records. Developments in the field of medical technology, such as closed-loop personalized medicines and ultrasound equipment, are no longer abstract ideas from James Bond movies but rather realistic endeavors that are at the forefront of technology research right now.
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Source: AmCham Norway
Published: June 3, 2015