Our healthcare workers have pushed innovation to its edge as they battle Covid-19. From new hospitals to HR systems that manage massive amounts of overtime, every part of the public health system faces new challenges.

Software giant SAP is using new cloud-based technologies and AI to monitor and streamline operations across the health supply chain. For Thiam Hwa Lim, Healthcare Director and Industry lead for SAP Southeast Asia, innovation can revolutionise care for those who most need it, at hospital, and at home.

In this exclusive interview, he tells us how a patient-centric approach can put the “right services with the right patient and the right time”.

Taking the Pulse of the Market

Patient-centricity requires data. To challenge Covid-19, the company rolled out free solutions aimed to help healthcare organisations and governments, including a series of surveys to understand pressure points. “SAP understands the impact of Covid-19 on the healthcare providers in terms of the people, the patient care, the supply chain and operations,” Lim says.

Together with experience management company Qualtrics, SAP launched a new app dedicated to building an accurate pool of real-time information on COVID-19. Combining information from the World Health Organization (WHO), with specific country data, and relevant government guidance, the app is a way for healthcare professionals, and those they treat, to simplify and streamline information updates so they can focus on wellbeing.

Healthcare at Hospitals, and at Home

All hospitals are now struggling to manage their resources. SAP is partnering with a healthcare authority in Australia to “look at the availability of beds (and) of personal protective equipment,” Lim reveals. Their risk management solution can track patient activity and resources, linking hospitals with suppliers and revamping the procurement chain. Linking this data to a digital dashboard means that predictive analytics can monitor supply and demand, sourcing stock in real time before inventories get critically low.

Home healthcare is also vital. During a time of quarantine and lockdown, healthcare at home and digital tracking keep those most vulnerable on the radar. SAP Digital Care Aged project, launched in Australia, is now looking to pilot across Asia, with an aim to connect patients in care homes with the care they need. The digital platform links to wearable devices to monitor patients’ daily activity, and safety. Hooking up to voice technologies like Google Home also allows for patients to ask for help when they need it. “You want to make it easy to use”, explains Lim, “so that they can interact with this tech platform for things like medicine timings or if they need help and service”.

The Next Normal

In the midst of a global crisis, nation leaders need strong partnerships. “We are working with a number of government agencies to support them in handling this with Covid-19 pandemic”, says Lim. The German foreign ministry reached out to SAP to help 120,000 of their nationals stranded overseas when the pandemic broke, for instance.

Within 24 hours a mobile app based on the SAP cloud platform was developed and deployed, allowing German foreign industries to reach out to those overseas, and facilitate their journey home. The world will eventually heal, but digital is here to stay. As the volume of health-related data increases, Lim says, we are seeing “hospitals slowly moving towards a hybrid model with some non-sensitive data to the cloud”. Agile healthcare is on the uptake, and your smartphone could be your next doctor. “As delivery is moving towards remote care and telemedicine, it’s very important to ensure feedback is collected,” he says. “We’re integrating this into a chatbot. Because you see in the future people may have a Google home device or Alexa at home as well, and they can use this to provide feedback and ensure the quality of services”.

The most important factor is accessibility. “We want to make this as easy as online shopping,” he laughs. Machine learning is putting humans at the heart of healthcare, at a time when they need it most.

This interview was first published on GovInsider.