Technology-driven healthcare in times of crisis

Technology-driven healthcare in times of crisis

The World Health Organization suggests that the 2020s will be the decade that digital technology reshapes the health system. The advantages of innovation in this sector are enormous, and change is long overdue, but as ever: the transformative potential of technology must battle against the weight of status quo. The healthcare industry in Europe is particularly conscious of this. Could the pandemic be the jolt that’s needed to galvanise transformation on an industrial scale?

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For decades, the potential of healthcare transformation has been clear. At a minimum level, the ability to quickly connect with clinicians and to share information between experts can deliver improved outcomes for patient care, but that’s just the start. Unfortunately, the adoption of technology is currently falling short of its potential.

First of all, it’s important to acknowledge the difference between digitisation versus digital transformation. Research suggests that 78% of patient records in Europe have been digitised, but the crucial next step will be using smarter technology to extract the benefits. That’s where the real transformation begins.

A recent report by McKinsey (2019) shows that European countries are trailing behind the US in terms of Electronic Medical Record Adoption. There’s a 3% adoption rate in Europe, compared to 35% in the US. The potential benefits of this technology are huge – accurate, up-to-date information about patients, on-demand. It could improve diagnostics, co-ordinated care, safer prescriptions and create more accessibility to care overall.

In their Annual European eHealth Survey (2019), Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMMS) polled 531 healthcare professionals to identify the biggest eHealth trends for the next few years. 38% believed that patient health records would be the most significant trend. Meanwhile, provision of telemedicine services came in close second with 36%.

However, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, these priorities have likely changed. Social distancing requirements have increased the need for flexibility. Now that more healthcare providers must work from home, there is even more emphasis on having reliable, powerful computers that can connect clinicians with patients and enable remote access to sensitive data.

The ThinkPad T14i Healthcare edition provides the performance capability that clinicians expect from a ThinkPad, with advanced features for improving patient care. For example, high quality audio and video makes telemedicine consultations easy to run and effective. And Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) lets clinicians access important applications remotely, enabling more efficient workflows, such as being able to interpret radiology scans away from the lab. Reliable devices such as these mean that qualified, expert care is now that much more accessible.

Laptops like the ThinkPad T490 are also made to withstand 10,000 cleans over a 3-year lifecycle and offer advanced security features including a fingerprint scanner for convenient and safe access to sensitive data. Enabling clinicians with this sort of technology is the first hurdle to overcome for a successful transformation. Reports from the European market suggest that these efforts have previously been impeded by lack of funding and infrastructure, but the pandemic response could change all that.

Once the infrastructure is in place, it could catalyse further transformation. Further down the agenda for change, Artificial Intelligence and Personalised Medicine are perceived as having equal significance over the next few years. This will involve using the power of big data to start identifying trends in population health and creating predictive models of healthcare. For example, powerful AI technologies can now decode individual genomes in a matter of hours, providing intelligent risk assessment for specific patients.

In terms of Covid-19, computational biology has been vital for enabling a rapid response towards developing treatments and understanding the virus. Companies such as AtomWise have developed AI capable of running in silico screening that can rapidly predict the efficacy of medicinal compounds. Meanwhile open-source data projects, such as, increase the availability of knowledge for combatting the most severe threat to public health in a century. While wearable tech and IoT could make track-and-trace and containment measures even more effective.

Beyond pandemic response, the potential of AI in healthcare is (unsurprisingly) vast. For example, AI can assist in accurately interpreting radiology scans, easing the burden on professionals. This year, Nature journal published an article that shows the potential of Google’s DeepMind AI in identifying breast cancer. The research shows an absolute reduction of 5.7% and 1.2% (USA and UK) in false positives and 9.4% and 2.7% in false negatives. DeepMind claims to have run a simulation indicating this method could alleviate the workload of second readers by 88%.

Lenovo’s range of powerful devices for business can provide the technological backbone that transformed healthcare will depend on. For example, the Lenovo ThinkCentre Nano Healthcare Edition is an incredibly versatile and unobtrusive desktop with a form factor of just 0.35L. Smart, purpose-built technology such as this can drive quick connectivity, collaboration and performance in healthcare.

Connecting the healthcare industry will raise challenges for digital maturity, scalability, managing data and cybersecurity – but clearly the potential outcomes are significant enough to make the endeavour worthwhile. Lenovo has the smarter technology and solutions available to create efficient, effective workflows. What many healthcare professionals will be wondering, is whether the industry will now benefit from additional focus and funding in light of Covid-19, and whether transformation might finally start picking up speed.


To find out more about Lenovo’s smarter technology Healthcare solutions, visit our landing page.