October 28, 2015
By: Geir Prestegård

Digital healthcare is coming. In the first of three blogs, Geir Prestegård looks through the lens of Accenture’s 2015 Technology Vision for Healthcare to see how new digital developments are likely to play out in the health regions and in Norway as a whole.

Rapid take-up of information and medical technology in Norway will be an increasingly strong influence on social, business and clinical practices. Taken together, these developments will challenge hospitals and their care delivery partners to maintain and optimise operations, evolve to adopt new practices and respond to changing user expectations.

This presents a unique opportunity to transform the nature of healthcare services, and how they’re delivered, in a local and national context. It’s a transformation that also creates broader opportunities for innovation in services and products.

Looking through the lens of Accenture’s 2015 Technology Vision for Healthcare, this is how I see these trends playing out in Norway.

The ‘Internet of me’—your healthcare, personalised
The digitisation of medical records and everyday habits makes it increasingly possible to provide patients with new, individualised healthcare experiences. And for the health regions, the use of technology to deliver these personalised experiences is a strategic imperative.

Patients and citizens are also looking to use personal medical technology to obtain deeper services across lines of care—at speed and always on. And they expect their physicians and care givers to have similar access. The long-term national eHealth strategy ‘One Citizen—One Record’ calls for seamless healthcare services across regions, municipalities and points of delivery. This will set the stage for Norwegian eHealth for the next decade—and provides the basis for planning the road ahead.

‘Outcome economy’—hardware producing healthy results
New hardware means users can gather and present information in more ways than ever before. Traditional hospital IT was all about manual input of clinical data. Today, sensors in medical devices, equipment and buildings collect data and present it over different devices and display channels to communicate with and between clinicians and patients.

Similar initiatives are underway in Norway, with connected hardware being used to interact with end-users. The ‘El-hub’ initiative for automatic meter reading, for example, will provide households with a residential gateway for sending different kinds of data—and not just electricity consumption. How about vital health information? That could be transmitted via El-hub, using Altinn, the national digital platform, as the infrastructure for transmitting it to eHealth registries and eServices.

Various Norwegian niche players are developing health-related hardware with great success outside of Norway. Sonitor, for instance, is a leading provider of real-time location system (RTLS) solutions. These use an ultrasound indoor positioning system (IPS) that automatically tracks (with 100 percent room accuracy) the real-time location of moveable equipment and people in complex indoor environments, such as hospitals. Such technologies can be deployed for ‘wayfinding’ to improve both the quality of patient experience and the efficiency of hospital staff.

New healthcare possibilities
Developments like these create new possibilities for delivering healthcare. Patients can be treated from home, or in the workplace. And technology is rapidly evolving beyond ‘wearables’ to ‘ingestibles’, ‘implantables’ and ‘hearables’ (earpieces that track information and respond via voice). In this new world, a stable, secure and flexible infrastructure will play an increasingly critical role in Norway—delivering new health outcomes and driving the innovation needed to accelerate new ideas through pilots and prototypes to implementation.

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