Health City will pioneer new methods, tech guru says
Cayman will be at the forefront of a technological revolution in healthcare, according to the Silicon Valley tech expert partnering with Health City.
Samir Mitra, CEO of iKare Technologies, says the hospital will feature an iPad on every bed with a sophisticated system of apps replacing medical charts in an almost “paperless” facility – the first of its kind in the Western hemisphere.
Experts at the inaugural Healthcare Conference on Tuesday at the Marriott resort on Seven Mile Beach said the health industry is the last to embrace the technical revolution.
Doctors, tech entrepreneurs and academics believe the industry is about to reach a “tipping point,” with new applications of mobile and smartphone technology expected to help drive down costs and open up new healthcare opportunities to a far greater number of patients.
Mr. Mitra believes Health City Cayman Islands will be at the cutting edge of that movement.
“It is a new hospital, so the culture has not been set yet. That allows us to experiment a little bit. We don’t want to experiment with patients, but we can experiment on the processes and procedures we use.”
One example will be patient iPads that will be central to the smooth running of the facility. Mr. Mitra said the system of apps integrates with the medical equipment and patient details to aggregate and process information at high speeds.
He said the aim is to provide doctors with instant, relevant information when things go wrong, and cut some of the confusion and potential for human error inherent in the current system.
Francisco D’Souza, of U.S.-based multinational Cognizant, which developed the technology along with medical experts at Dr. Shetty’s facility in India, said it has been successful at the original Health City, Bangalore.
Mr. D’Souza said, “This (the iPad app) not only keeps the patient’s history and vital statistics, but it creates a single window for practitioners to have information about that particular patient. It alerts physicians and caregivers if there is a problem, if a reading falls out of some acceptable range, and it improves protocols about what to do and how to take action in certain situations.”
He said the iKare system of apps shows “in microcosm” the possibilities that exist for technology to fuel improvements in healthcare delivery.
“The reason that this system which is now being deployed in the Cayman Islands is so pathbreaking is not the technology. The technology is important, but what is more important is how we created it.”
He said medical professionals and IT “geeks” worked together to create something that neither could have achieved on their own.
He expects the trend to continue, with the Cayman Islands likely to be a critical testing ground for the application of new technology in healthcare. He said the tech revolution has already had a profound effect on other industries.
“Netflix has completely changed how we watch movies; look at what iTunes did for music. For the first time, we are seeing technology also having a dramatic impact on healthcare.”
He said portable devices, such as under-skin sensors which check sugar levels, are already being used to a far greater degree, but the potential for expansion is enormous.
“My wife, as a physician, walks around with an instrument around her neck that was invented more than 100 years ago – a stethoscope. At the same time, I walk into the lab at General Electric and I see them producing ultrasound machines that work on a cellphone. The shift that we are going to see in medical technology will be substantial.”
Mr. Mitra said the key is not to replace the expertise of doctors, but to use technology to make their life easier. He said developments, like iKare’s system of apps, drive down costs by reducing the amount of time patients need to be in hospital.
He said the mindset of Health City is crucial because it creates an opportunity to trial new methods in a real environment – something that did not exist with established hospitals where old-fashioned methods were entrenched.
“If it is a closed door, you can’t do anything. We need people that are open to change to be able to make a difference. With a new hospital and the right environment, it is easier.
“If you are trying to change a nut in a 747 in the air when it is already flying, that is different to doing it on the ground when it hasn’t taken off yet.”