Healthcare innovation and digital transformation

Healthcare innovation and digital transformation

Many firms are implementing Microsoft solutions to improve healthcare delivery and quality

Elly Yates-Roberts |

The healthcare industry is working hard to digitally transform. We have read the articles, heard about the changes and even experienced some of the new workflows ourselves. In the age of Covid-19, the need to update healthcare practices has become even more evident. Healthcare consumers and practitioners alike are eager to see improvements in healthcare delivery, quality and equity and a decrease in re-admissions. 

Microsoft is fortunate to partner with many companies who are leading the transformation of healthcare, often in unexpected ways. In this article, I’ll introduce you to three innovative companies that are changing how healthcare is delivered: Citizen Care Pod, Thoughtwire and Rapid Response Revival.

Covid drives innovation
As Covid-19 became a global pandemic, Carl Demarco, CEO of Camillion Corporation, and Zenon Radewych, principal of WZMH Architects, leaped into action. Building a consortium that included PCL Construction and Insight Enterprises, they innovated in a way that only a diverse set of companies with a singular focus could. In just one month, the team built the Citizen Care Pod. Designed to enable organisations to be more flexible in how they provide services to the public, the Citizen Care Pod is a modular shipping container that is tailored to each customer.  

The original purpose was to quickly set up Covid-19 testing centres wherever they were needed, ensuring the safety of healthcare workers and citizens. However, shortly after launching the Citizen Care Pod they started receiving enquiries from government agencies, universities and other organisations eager to have the flexibility to provide essential services safely. Today, the Citizen Care Pod is the market maker in Covid-19-safe, modular spaces, using the Microsoft Azure Cloud, internet of things (IoT) platform and artificial intelligence tools. The containers ensure that the workers inside the units are comfortable and the air is properly circulated and cleaned of harmful particulates. On the outside, the units can be outfitted with a variety of technology configurations that can ensure that citizens outside the pod are properly spaced apart, screened for temperatures and have access to tablets that provide translation services.   

Improvements in workflows
Prior to Covid-19 becoming a global epidemic, it was evident that even the best hospitals lacked process optimisation. Hospitals are complicated places, with extensive facilities and equipment, highly specialised staff and clinicians, and patients who need enhanced care and support around the clock.

Running a hospital is also expensive and a matter of life and death. The virus has added to staff workloads by requiring more of them at a time when there aren’t enough clinicians to serve the population in the best of times. However, the team at ThoughtWire knew they could help. 

Years ago, ThoughtWire started bringing together data from practitioners, hospital staff, patients, processes and the physical assets. The company developed a way to unify all the assets to put hospital staff in control and enable them to improve workflows. Using digital twins technology along with the Azure Cloud, IoT, machine learning and other technologies, ThoughtWire’s Smart Hospital solution focuses on three key areas: EarlyWarning, designed to predict emergency situations and ensure care is provided pre-emptively; SynchronisedOps which focuses on improving staff workflows; and RapidResponse to ensure that clinicians are available when a patient needs attention. The goal is to improve staff satisfaction and reduce burnout, while also improving patient experiences and care. 

Mother of innovation
In 2014, Donovan Casey, CEO and founder of Rapid Response Revival, was faced with a seeming insurmountable task: keep his 41-year-old partner, Sarah, alive with CPR while the paramedics raced to their home. Sarah survived the ordeal thanks to Casey’s CPR and the paramedics use of a defibrillator. 

After the incident, Casey made it his mission to reduce the amount of deaths from sudden cardiac arrest. He created Rapid Response Revival and hired a team of experts to bring to market CellAED, a portable, inexpensive defibrillator that can be used by anyone at any time. 

As our populations continue to age and the number of clinicians declines, innovative solutions will be an important part of our evolving healthcare delivery systems. These companies have taken very different approaches to tackling some of the most pressing and important scenarios facing providers, payers and patients today. 

Sally Frank is worldwide lead for health and life sciences at Microsoft for Startups

This article was originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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