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How The Hospital Of The Future Will Ease Latin America’s Growing Pains

September 2, 2015 by Martin Kopp

Due to an aging population, increase in obesity, and a Millennial generation resistant to traditional healthcare methods, Latin America is quickly ramping up its digital capabilities to provide better care, boost patient satisfaction and help people stay out of the hospital through preventative care programs.

In Mexico, for example, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity. The government responded by adopting one of its most comprehensive programs to date, focused on improving public health and surveillance, better care for people with chronic diseases and regulation and fiscal measures.

The Hospital of the Future

I experienced firsthand the challenges and growth within this vibrant region during the SAP Spotlight Tour in Brazil and learned hospitals are eager to optimize their IT systems in order to achieve quality outcomes for patients. It may seem hard to believe, but the main goal of a hospital is to prevent people from being re-admitted.

I believe five components are critical to meet this healthcare reality, or what I call “the hospital of the future.”

1) Digital Core

This is a hospital’s IT infrastructure or platform, where they manage financials and supply chain, as well as integrate specific applications for patient engagement and their electronic medical records solution for patients.

2) Patient Engagement

This is about lowering re-admissions by providing patients with tools and advice so they become more engaged about their health and are better able to prevent health issues.

3) Workforce

This starts by finding and hiring qualified staff and ensuring they receive ongoing learning opportunities to help them provide better services and outcomes for patients. A global study entitled “Workforce 2020” by Oxford Economics surveyed executives and employees to gauge the future of the workforce in healthcare. The study found that 48% of healthcare employees get ample training on workplace technology, but only 32% get access to the latest technology. To achieve patient engagement hospital staff needs access to new technologies.

4) Internet of Things and Big Data

Here is where a hospital can shine and truly engage with their patients with innovative technologies; for example, hospitals can track a patient’s individual health data via sensor technology. Roche Diabetes Caredeveloped a preventive program for people prone to getting diabetes to help track their glucose levels. The data collected is visible by their physicians to help make instant therapy decisions. Doctor visits are dramatically reduced as a result. Use of devices in tracking vitals have been positively received by patients. One might put this in the category of personalized medicine, because an individual’s medical data is being tracked and recorded to make real-time decisions and treatment options. Personalization produces better outcomes, helping people get better faster.

5) Digital Network

A well-run digital network is key, as this is where all of the above work together, seamlessly.  A hospital becomes part of this network, which embodies the complete cycle of care for a patient.

Committed to Healthcare

It is an exciting time in healthcare, but also a challenging one. To make the hospital of the future a reality, many obstacles remain. One important obstacle faced by hospitals in Latin America and the rest of the world is cyber security. This is an entirely new focus area that I will address in a future post.

Healthcare also intersects with sports and youth. An important component of a sports club’s success is the health and wellness of its athletes. But across all sports, 15-30% of payroll costs are lost due to injury. Sensor technologies are being used to monitor an athlete’s vital signs, which are monitored in real-time by their trainers to take preventive measures before an athlete is seriously hurt.

My experience in Latin America was both informative and uplifting, and I look forward to helping our customers – and the industry-at-large – overcome challenges through technology. Please join the conversation with SAP about healthcare, youth, and sports at: #SAPSpotlight.

This story previously appeared on SAPVoice on Forbes.

Photo: Shutterstock

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