Hospitals are part of a complex eco-system of moving parts evolving around the needs of patients, carers and healthcare workers. Patients are admitted and discharged constantly. Outpatients require treatment. Visitors come to see their loved ones. Healthcare professionals move from patient to patient and ward to ward. Supplies are delivered 24/7. Keeping track of all that movement and activity is a huge challenge. And with the pressure on hospitals increasing, it will become harder to optimise operations, manage risks, allocate resources effectively, and keep everyone safe and secure all at the same time.
Pressure on people
Achieving that today requires significant resources. Monitoring what’s happening on the ground, maintaining security, and ensuring that all patients are safe relies on having many people focused on those tasks across the whole hospital campus. Of course, during COVID-19, that pressure has been even more acute, with the need to ensure that people are complying with guidelines to reduce the risks of infection.
Singapore’s ageing population
But there are other critical considerations hospitals will need to address soon. Not least of these for Singapore is the ageing population. That will inevitably mean more demand on the health system, and hospitals, as one in five of the population will be aged over 65 by 2030. Or put another way, that section of the population will nearly triple from 350,000 today to 960,000 people. Singapore’s national healthcare expenditure looks set to triple to $59 billion in 2030. It’s clear that traditional approaches to healthcare will need to change.
A digital way forward?
Digital technologies will be central to that change. Accenture's 2021 Technology Vision highlights the key trends that are transforming the art of the possible for all organisations. And one trend in the report, Mirrored World, is especially relevant to addressing the challenge of managing the complexities a hospital's operations creates. This trend looks at the role of intelligent digital twins, and the significant promise they offer to enable far greater situational awareness that will in turn support a new level of operational readiness, risk management and security within healthcare systems. A digital twin creates a virtual replica of a physical asset. This can be used to monitor, analyse, and simulate the physical asset’s operations. In a healthcare setting, digital twins could virtualise an entire hospital to help create a safe environment that tests the influence of changes on the hospital’s performance without introducing risks to the physical site.
Creating a virtual hospital
A digital twin modelled on a hospital would make it possible to access data-driven insights into operational strategies, capacities, staffing and care models to determine the best actions and plan for future challenges. Take A&E admissions, for example. A digital twin can monitor capacity in real time. That means resources can be quickly deployed where they are most needed, staff schedules can be optimised and scarce resources such as beds and operating theatres allocated.
Accenture research shows that globally, 25% of healthcare executives say their organisations are already experimenting with digital twins. 87% say digital twins are becoming essential to their organisation’s ability to collaborate in strategic ecosystem partnership. What’s more, 91% believe that their organisation needs a mission control or central intelligence hub to gain insights into complexities and model their organisation’s processes, people, and assets.
A central intelligence hub for the hospital
Digital twins can provide that central intelligence hub. For hospitals in Singapore, exploring the ‘Mirrored World’ offers an opportunity to meet the very real challenges that an ageing population presents. Leaders need to make sure that they can harness the power of digital twins to create the more robust, flexible and responsive health system that Singapore will need in the very near future.
The Accenture 2021 Technology Vision highlights five key technology trends that will play a significant role in shaping that future health system. In our next blog, we'll look at one of these trends - I, Technologist – in more detail. This describes how the entire workforce will be empowered through technology to innovate and develop their own solutions for improving care and working more efficiently and effectively.
Disclaimer: This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors.
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