While digital technologies and services proved to be a lifesaver carrying us through the disruption caused by Covid-19, it did little to help the healthcare industry. Against this backdrop, healthcare leaders are under on-going pressure to improve patient outcomes and reduce operational costs. The translation? Do more with less resources. Increasingly, healthcare has to support large numbers of caregivers, support staff, and wrangle huge amounts of data.
Advances in digital healthcare technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), virtual reality, genomes, and nanotechnology, hold the promise of answering the question of balancing patient care and operational expense.
AI is often thought of as automation and anything involving robotics; however, through the use of AI algorithms, AI technology can design treatment plans or even create new drugs. Google’s Deep Mind created an AI that can identify breast cancer more accurately and faster than human radiologists. Paige. AI – a member of the NVIDIA Inception program – was granted “Breakthrough Designation” by the US Food & Drug Administration, the first such designation for AI in cancer diagnosis.
Digital technology offers three types of visual experiences which can be used to better prepare for surgery and as an educational tool. Virtual Reality is being used by future surgeons to practice operations. A recent Harvard Business Review Study showed how practicing VR procedures boosted success by 230% over traditionally trained surgeons. Augmented Reality creates a multi-sensory world where digital images and data are rendered onto real-world objects. Mixed Reality combines the digital world with the real-world environment so that users can interact with both. Imagine a surgeon preparing for a complicated brain surgery. The hospital receives all the MRE images. The Mixed Reality device renders them into a 3-Dimensional holographic image. A doctor can look at the problematic area and analyze it layer by layer. Zooming in and out of the patient, the doctor can plan their entire intervention before actually making an incision.
Genome Sequencing determines a person’s complete DNA sequence and could provide the key for understanding the blueprint for building a person and for a person-specific form of healthcare. Illumina, a DNA sequencing company based in San Diego, unveiled NovaSeq, a machine that will one day order-up your whole genome for less than the cost of a blood test.
Nanotechnology is the science of the extremely small and it holds enormous potential for healthcare. MIT created an electronic wireless controlled pill that could perform basic diagnostic information or release drugs in response to Smartphone commands. Small, smart pills like the PillCam are already in use to perform noninvasive colon exams.
Many of these new medical technologies, and more, are sure to have an impact on improving life for both patients and their providers. Like the future of many other industries, healthcare’s destiny is directly tied to how well healthcare professionals embrace technologies as they become available.
In a Harvard Business Review article from April 28, 2020, Hemant Taneja stressed the critical importance of rebuilding our healthcare system in real partnership with technology innovators. Some technology companies like NVIDIA already have new sophisticated technologies that help tackle interoperable data, use AI to augment radiology workflows, and help identify pathologies (such as cancers) incredibly fast by analyzing images, providing insights based on previous cases, and diagnose faster and more accurately by pinpointing anomalies. For every new technology available on the market there are another dozen waiting in the wings.
These are exciting times. They are full of uncertainties, crisis, opportunities, and digital technological advancements unlike anything we’ve seen before. The arrival of these new innovations is not as far off as you might think.
Already there are technologies providing healthcare workers with a steady stream of their patient’s health data. This is converging to a point in the not too distant future where medical history data, real-time health, insurance coverage details, and other financial information combine seamlessly to support better patient care and reduced operational expenses.
Flows of knowledge and technology
can provide access to what Taneja refers to in. his article as, “practical solutions that will push us closer to a pandemic resilient health system.”
Digital transformation of information and electronic communication tools
represent the basic foundation for organizations to remain relevant as we move deeper into this decade.
Because the world is more connected than ever, these digital flows have become richer and more powerful than ever. They are to us now what rivers were to ancient cities and civilizations. Back then you wanted to build your town or factory near a rushing river and let it flow through you. That river would give you power, mobility, nourishment, and access to distant neighbors and their ideas. So, it is now, with these digital flows into and out of the cloud. The river you want to build on now is IronOrbit – the connector will enable you and your organization to gain access to all the computing power you will need now, and in the years ahead. It is where you can tie into every flow in the world in which you would want to participate.
All of these digital technologies and more will be made available and accessed through some form of cloud-based environment.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can ensure a future-proof pandemic resilient healthcare system for your organization,
please contact us for a no obligation conversation at (888) 603-9050.
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME: SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THE NEW – NEW NORMAL
It surprised me. The first time that I heard a news broadcaster use the words “the new normal” in reference to the post COVID time frame made me stop and think. Here was a term first used following the financial crisis of 2008 and it’s aftermath. Until then, I was expecting everything to go back to how we had always known it.
I thought about it. I realized that the newscaster was right. COVID-19 has changed the way we do business – and life – forever. In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, many facets of the way we do business have shifted. Daily, we see our lives become more confined. The uncertainty of it all restricts us in many ways. It is too early to tell what all the permanent business ramifications will be. But there is change in the air. One thing is certain. This situation will expose corporate weaknesses and strengths. How the story unfolds for your business depends largely on how you navigate the waters ahead.
Look at the current impact of the virus on business operations. It’s clear that the shift toward the “new normal” has caused the adoption of certain technologies sooner and faster than ever expected. Here are 6 ways technology trends have changed for better or for worse.
What Has Coronavirus, and Our Reaction to it, Changed in Business Forever?
1. The way businesses view and handle remote workers has changed.
In this article from MarketWatch, we see some business benefits of allowing employees to work from home, such as taking advantage of a more diverse talent pool and flexibility in labor costs.
A great number of employees now working from home. They’ve been working from home for a prolonged period of time. Many companies will have to make adjustments and accept remote workers. Being able to transition to a home or remote office when problems arise will be the new normal. The bonus: the flexibility allows for a more productive and capable workforce.
Tool and technology that’s ready to go in either environment is a great way to support your team. It encourages autonomy and collaboration among teams. Get the job done, regardless of location. That’s the new normal.
· Zoom or Microsoft Teams are cloud-hosted communications tools that allow for adhoc web meetings among different groups.
· Trello is a great way for companies to work together on projects, allowing for integration into other subscription-based business apps like Google drive or Dropbox for sharing.
· Slack is an attractive alternative to email, allowing single or team-based conversations that are searchable.
2. The way businesses view and use artificial intelligence has changed.
Another trend that has been gaining more traction is the use of artificial intelligence (AI), specifically, machine learning. Being able to mine through the copious amounts of data we have on coronavirus is helping scientists and researchers find answers quicker than ever.
The use-case for machine learning (ML) is not limited to scientific research. Imagine being able to accurately forecast sales data. Or what if you could have a chatbot that could answer customer service inquiries 24/7 from your website?
ML has deep roots in cybersecurity. ML has the ability to analyze network traffic and detect anything seen as malicious. Many of the latest security tools incorporate AI/ML. They are able to learn the current cybersecurity posture of business systems. They can proactively combat malware threats.
The first step for a company is to vet, implement, and accept machine learning. This could be for a specific task or to provide general support to a department. Once this happens, the doors to advance technology swing open. The power of ML to benefit a company become apparent.
3. Acceptance of the public cloud infrastructure has changed.
With COVID-19 forcing businesses to rely on the cloud, company leaders that were once wary of public cloud infrastructure are now embracing it.
A recent CRN post reports cloud computing have enabled companies to scale business applications. And they’ve been able to do it reliably. Thanks to the minds behind Google, AWS, and Microsoft Azure, rapid scaling has been virtually trouble free.
Microsoft Azure alone has reported a 775% increase in usage of cloud services like Teams, PowerBI, and Windows Virtual Desktop.
Relying on a proven infrastructure is good. Doing it without managing physical server hardware is even better. It is more critical now than ever before.
Businesses that use a cloud infrastructure can scale back without incurring unneeded costs. If they are in a current downswing.
Remote work, SaaS applications, and Cloud Infrastructure are in high gear. The COVID-19 crisis will cause these trends to gain more traction and use. Companies will scale their services and solutions. Those that wing themselves from on-premises infrastructure will have the advantage. They may even elect to downsize physical office buildings. Or not. Having the choice is also an advantage.
The changes to business and technology brought on by COVID-19 are here to stay. There are significant business benefits from this course adjustment. The adoption of cloud-based technologies is one of them.
· The ability to work from wherever is convenient and productive.
· The capacity to deliver a solution that is always available – regardless of business demand or outside factors.
· The freedom for a company to better align with its employees and customer needs.
4. The competitive edge and viability of companies has changed forever.
People are forced to stay home more. They don’t want to risk exposure. They become reliant on delivery services like Door Dash, PostMate, and InstaGuard to get food and supplies. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are bigger than ever.
Who is losing out?
Restaurants by the thousands will struggle to climb out of the COVID-19 trauma. Some won’t make it. The franchise chains will. Cinema theaters across the country are currently closed, and some of them will not reopen. This will have an impact on how movies are exhibited. It will also impact what types of feature films are developed and financed. Fewer studios will be willing to take the risk of financing blockbuster movies. This is especially true of disaster movies. These are the movies that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make and market.
One night in early April, the Governor of New York summed up the problem, “The simplicity of it is so what makes it so tragic. Because we don’t have a piece of equipment somebody is going to die? How did we get to this place? In this county. We have to buy all our supplies from China? I can’t get protective equipment because China is making it? China is making the ventilators?”
But it’s not just medical supply chains that are being reconsidered. The coronavirus pandemic will also have long term effects on the tech hardware industry.
Parts needed to assemble various hardware and electronic products come from a multitude of sources. Most of them are overseas. A factory that makes television monitors doesn’t necessarily make the screens. The processing chips are made at a different factory. The power supply might be made at yet another factory. It’s all interconnected. If one factory is shut down, it impacts all the others down the line.
The entire system can grind to a halt. Having a supply chain that involves multiple nations like the United States and China will most certainly be re-evaluated. It’s better to have all the needed components of a particular name brand product to build closer to home. This will kill some tech manufacturing firms and enrich others.
The use of AI automation is going to make it more attractive for manufacturing to come back to the USA. That will shorten the length of supply chains while ensuring their security.
Apple’s already indicated that it won’t be able to make a sufficient supply of its Smartphones for the year. That’ll be true of other smartphone makers…some won’t make it. It has already begun.
The is Irony is that a virus that originated in China is ultimately helping China’s economy to bounce back. China has the capacity to manufacture much of the equipment needed in other parts of the world, including our own. Long term, many companies are going to be looking at diversifying their supply chain. They’ll avoid putting all their eggs in one basket.
5. Everyone in the company working in and from one building – or any company-owned building – has changed forever.
In an April 20th Fast Company article, several enterprise CEOs and influencers, including Jared Spataro (corporate vice president, Microsoft 365), agree that working from home and increased video conferencing will become the new normal.
Jared Spataro is quoted as saying,“This time will go down as a turning point for the way people work and learn. We have a time machine as China navigates its return back to work—and we’re not seeing usage of Microsoft Teams dip. People are carrying what they learned and experienced from remote work back to their “new normal.” We’re learning so much about sustained remote work during this time.”
Business is not the only place where “from home” situations will continue well after COVID-19 has been conquered. Education is another sector that has changed forever. But what about all those families that don’t have basic access to the Internet at home? School shutdowns requiring students to take online courses widen the socio-education disparity in our society.
Sal Khan, founder and CEO of the educational nonprofit Khan Academy, said, “The need for online access and devices in every home is now so dire that it may finally mobilize society to treat internet connectivity as a must-have rather than a nice-to-have. We’re already seeing governments, school districts, philanthropists, and corporations step up to close the digital divide. If this continues to happen, we could get to a state of nearly universal online access at home.”
Sal Khan’s prediction is already happening in Singapore where universal Internet connectivity is nearly 100%. Universal Internet connectivity in Singapore is part of their Intelligent Nation 2015 and Smart Nation initiative. In August 2018, Ookia’s speed tests determined that Singapore’s broadband speed of 181.47 Mbit/s is the highest in the world.
6. Our view of reliance on a single revenue stream – as a business and as individuals – has changed forever.
Will Lopez, head of accountant community at HR platform Gusto put it all into perspective when he said,
“This won’t be the end of brick-and-mortar store. Just as it won’t be the end of the digital cinema theater. These are important businesses. They help form the social fabric of our communities. But retail shops and restaurants will change the way they operate. The crisis has reminded people that they need to remain agile. It has reminded us to move with the times. Don’t be stuck with the old way of doing things.”
Where many of these shops have historically relied on foot traffic. These same shops will now develop ways to create alternative streams of revenue. For example, many restaurants will link up with delivery service platforms. They’ll expand their geographic reach. More boutiques will develop an online presence that reaches beyond their local neighborhoods.”
The “new normal” will mean most companies will stall. Many will go out of business. The ones that do survive must continue to optimize the way they operate. They will have to rethink their business models moving forward. Supply chains have been disrupted. For many this experience has been a painful lesson. Companies will respond. They’ll have to. They will strengthen whatever back-up plans they have in place. If there are none. They will have to build them from scratch. This includes expanded work-at-home capabilities for more employees. They’ll have to consider options. Then they must position themselves to take advantage of those options.
New resiliency metrics will be rolled into valuations along with climate-related risks. The whole concept of resiliency will have the same importance as cost and efficiency. Resiliency is no longer a nice to have, but a necessity.
Individuals, communities, businesses, and governments are learning new ways to connect. Business leaders are finding faster, cheaper ways to operate. Conferences and meetings happen on online. Everybody that can has been working from home. These are positive changes. Better management. A more flexible staff.
Can we create a next new normal? One that will be better than what it replaced? Can we become agile enough to move even as the situation moves? Can we learn to address the challenges positively. These will be a long-term questions for us all.
What innovations will there be to leverage?
What technologies will business leaders use to thrive in the “new normal?”
The first part of this blog set the stage for what follows.The coronavirus pandemic slowed us down. At that same it has pushed us into our homes to work. The pandemic has, and continues, to accelerate technological advancements. The novel virus has physically slowed each and everyone of us. And it has slowed the economy. The Brookings Institute reported that our economy has entered a contraction.
There is much we still don’t know about the coronavirus, We also don’t know how the lock downs across the country will affect our business and our economy long term. This is all uncharted territory. While all of this true, technology has been a life-saver for many businesses.
So, how is technology going to keep the USA in business and help the economy to recover?
The supply chain for US companies is long and complex.
Goods manufactured here in the USA have multiple supply vendors. The supply chain cycles in weeks – not days or hours.
We pick up an item at a big-box store or the local hardware store. We don’t consider all the suppliers and technology it takes to get that product on the shelf.
The supply chain has slowed for some industries. Our supply chain technology is still in place and working. It’s ready to fire on all cylinders again when called upon to do so. We must monitor our supply chain.
In a Forbes article, Jaume Ribera of the IESE Business School contributor, warns of the “bullwhip effect.” This is when fluctuating consumer behavior impacts the supply chain at all levels.
2. Technology Enables Employees to Collaborate & Communicate with Clients.
Most businesses have been hard hit by COVID-19. There are others that have been flooded with new clients. They are struggling to keep up with demand.
The VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) video/audio communications companies are perfect examples of business sectors that have seen a spike in demand. Companies use applications like Microsoft Teams, to give telecommuters the same experience they had at the office.
Because of video and voice conferencing technology employees of companies across the USA are able to work from home, keep their jobs, and contribute to the ongoing health of their business.
3. Technology Supports Geo-Diverse Workflow.
Before the USA was impacted by the pandemic, many companies were already heavily investing in industry-optimized cloud workspaces, Microsoft 365, hosted servers, and cloud-based data backup/disaster recovery platforms.
Those who invested early in these technologies are now able to see their investment pay off exponentially. Competitors slow to adopt cloud-based technologies are having to scramble to retool their IT environment. Some have had to shut their doors. Companies already in the cloud are in a good position to push through this crisis. They can maintain workflow and business continuity.
When the post-mortem is done on the business impact of the COVID-19 crisis, cloud-based technology may very well be the hero of the day. It may be the driver that kept our economy from slipping into complete disarray.
4. Technology Undergirds the Public Health Message.
There has never been a time in history like this. Government and health officials can disseminate information. Our national telecommunications, internet, and wireless infrastructure may be at capacity. Our backbone of critical technologies is holding. It is playing a key role in the health of the workforce.
Technology giants like Amazon, FaceBook, and Google have stepped up to the plate to squelch the spread of misinformation. They’re replacing it with up-to date factual information.
Blair Levin of the Brookings Institute writes, “all of this internet use is putting more pressure on our broadband infrastructure. Just in the past few weeks, data demands have risen in nearly all categories. The previous peak has become the new average, and the surge is starting to threaten the quality and speed of content downloads. As shelter-in-place directives spread and demand increases, the question lingers of whether our broadband infrastructure can support the new normal.”
Well, the Internet system is working and handling the load. This crisis has reminded the nation it needs to keep up to ever increasing demands.
We need to continue upgrading our broadband infrastructure.
Health authorities are able to deliver critical information. This information is accurate. Distribution is by way of their websites and other trusted sources.
Employees are able to stay safe from the virus. They’re able to continue working remotely. One day this will be over. The returning workforce will be healthier than they would be without access to the disseminated health guidance.
5. Technology Enables Testing and Contact Tracing.
MIT has developed technology that enables your Smartphone to track where you’ve been. At the same time it preserves your privacy. You want to know that everyone around you is safe. At the same time, you don’t want the government tracking where everybody is going. MIT already has an AI-powered device that lets doctors monitor coronavirus patients remotely. The system is called Emerald. It is being used in some assisted living facilities. TheNextWeb reports that, Emerald aims to reduce the risks faced by healthcare professionals treating COVID-19, who are often exposed to the highly infectious disease without adequate protective gear.
Emerald could play a particularly important role in assisted living centers and retirement homes. The residents of these facilities are particularly vulnerable to the disease.
Experts are in agreement that major part of getting everyone back to work, and helping companies get back on their feet, is a healthy workforce. Providing healthcare professionals with the necessary technology to test, report, and contact trace are crucial to this effort.
On April 10th, The Economist reported that Apple and Google announced plans to work together to develop a way to track the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The unification of these two tech giants will make it easier for others to build contact-tracing apps that work without modifying either platform. Of course it raises a question. “If tracing apps are widely adopted, they must make people want to use them,” says Ciro Cattuto, an epidemiologist at the University of Turin, in Italy. “People need to feel like they’re contributing to a common good.”
6. Our New Appreciation for the Use of Digital Transformation Technologies.
Marketers for innovative technologies have traditionally had a challenging time convincing some leaders to invest in the future.convincing some business leaders that now was the time to make investments in newer, more efficient, cloud-based technologies.
Investing in technology that drove digital workflow transformation was seen as “nice to have” if “we can afford it.”
But when COVID-19 shifted the ground under the feet of U.S. business, those who had put money into cutting-edge business process technology were better positioned to ride out the storm. Some leaders, like the COO of the Clipper Corporation, Nancy Hejran, know that, one day, a disaster is going to happen. When that day comes, they want their data to be safe and secure.
These technologies will help the USA maintain a competitive edge in the global marketplace when COVID-19 has become a memory.
7. Technology Supports the Retooling of Companies for the Post-COVID-19 Economy.
There are yet many uncertainties, there is one thing with which everyone seems to be in agreement. Things aren’t going to snap back to “business as usual” once this wave of Coronavirus has passed.
Company leaders are looking at what their business will be post-COVID-19. For some, the course alteration will be minimal – hardly noticed. For other businesses, the idea of “business as usual” will need a new definition. It is sure to be shaped by the demands of our ramshackle economy and available technologies.
How will the coronavirus change the way we do business? How will it change the global business climate? After all, we are in this together.
We will explore the answers to this question in next week’s blog,