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Technology helps to improve healthcare procedures, benefiting professionals and patients

In the last decade, technology has definitely transformed our lives, changing the way we communicate, how we buy, travel, watch television or how we use so many services. Without exception, health care is also profoundly changing.

The digital transformation influences both the way health professionals work and the way patients and citizens interact with the health system. Professionals have new ways of providing health care at their fingertips, using increasingly sophisticated diagnostic equipment, which allows for more precise performance and clergy in treatments.

On the patients' side, there is an easier access to health information, with the internet, social networks and discussion forums, which increased the degree of self-knowledge and, consequently, the demand for the care provided. But means that should never be a substitute for consultation with a health professional.

In the future, health care management will increasingly involve the personalization of the citizen-to-citizen service, in which mobility and remote means of diagnosis and monitoring will allow the provision of an on-demand service, in a more convenient and resource-optimizing way. .

Health care spending continues to increase dramatically worldwide, with an estimated 10 billion dollar bilies in 2022 in2019 Global Health Care Outlook, Deloitte

How can service providers respond to these and other growing demands? The answer lies in the use of innovative technologies, which allow the monitoring and monitoring of patients with specific clinical conditions (for example, chronic patients, senior patients, patients in convalescence, patients in post-operative care) outside the clinical establishments, thus reducing operating costs, giving autonomy to patients and improving their experience and quality of life.

Featured virtualization and telemedicine

Investments in technologies such as virtualization or telemedicine can help companies in the health field to expand their portfolio of services, providing another level of care. These technologies are a good first step in reducing costs and improving patient follow-up and monitoring, as a transition is made to a new model of patient-centered healthcare and to new, more intelligent, efficient and safe approaches.

The health technology sector is expected to reach 280 billion dollars in 2021, with an annual growth rate of 15.9% between 2016-2021 Deloitte

The advances in telemedicine now allow teleconsultations and telediagnostics, with remote medical consultations through videoconferencing, which facilitate users' daily lives and promote greater knowledge sharing among health professionals.

Altice Empresas has positioned itself as a reference in this area, betting on an R&D roadmap dedicated to the health sector, with the support of Altice Labs, the Altice Group's innovation center in Portugal.

An example of this was the implementation, through Altice Labs, in 1998, of a pioneering real-time teleconsultation solution – Medigraf – at the Coimbra Cardiology Service. This solution was created essentially to respond to the shortage of specialist doctors in certain areas of the country, operating today in a network with all hospitals and maternity hospitals in the Centro region and some in the Northern region. Internationally, the solution also works between the Hospital of Coimbra and Angola and between the Instituto Marqus Vale Flr and S. Tom e Prncipe.

The Medigraf platform promotes collaborative work between health professionals, namely enabling the elaboration of diagnoses together with several doctors in different geographies, the sharing of exams in real time and the realization of teleconsultations, among others. This platform is also useful in the current pandemic situation, as it allows remote connection between health professionals, for the exchange of experience and information between all, as well as, more recently, teleconsultations between health professionals and users.

64% of consumers point to convenience and access as important advantages of Deloitte's health virtualization

The adoption of such a platform allows service providers in the health area to reduce the costs associated with consultations and travel, make the process of sharing experiences and knowledge faster, guarantee more robust diagnoses, reduce waiting times for specialty consultations, among other advantages, which also end up being valid for end users.

Also in the portfolio of health solutions from Altice Empresas, we highlight the telemonitoring solution Smart AL – Smart Assisted Living, a platform for providing remote health care. With this solution, it is possible to monitor, in real time, chronic or senior patients, as well as situations of convalescence or post-hospital follow-up, through the telemonitoring of vital signs and the support of day-to-day activities related to health , well-being and security to improve the quality of life of these most vulnerable populations.

This solution allows you to create monitoring plans and make appointments for the user to be alerted to taking medication, carrying out exercises, dates of consultations, among other activities. In addition, this platform also allows the integration of different biometric devices and sensors existing on the market, according to the monitoring needs of patients, which allows the measurements made on these devices to automatically appear on the platform without the need for manual insertion of the devices. same, although the manual option is also always available. Thus, it is possible to automate the monitoring of the user, guaranteeing the receipt of alerts and the recording of data history in the medical record, allowing to anticipate changes in health status and to act preventively.

SmartAL also provides a remote communication system that includes, in addition to surveys and educational content for the user, continuous professional monitoring, distance and in real time, through video consultation, chat, reminders and notifications, which is especially useful in the current pandemic context.

Proof of the importance and relevance of this solution, was the recognition given at the Santa Casa Challenge Extra COVID-19, special edition of the digital innovation contest of the Casa do Impacto of the Santa Casa da Misericrdia in Lisbon, which took place last April and awarded the SmartAL solution as it is a technological and digital solution that responds to the specific needs of the elderly in prophylactic confinement in institutions or in social isolation at home caused by COVID-19. In addition to the solution features mentioned above, this platform also allows the functional support network – whether they are family, professional caregivers, the social or other institutions and entities – to have access to all features through the use of profiles with different permissions.

In this way, users feel more accompanied and protected, mitigating the feeling of insecurity and fear that was installed with the pandemic. Also the question of contact is ensured, being able to do it through video call to your functional support network, which helps to mitigate the feeling of loneliness and anxiety.

Alongside solutions of this kind, there are new players, such as Amazon, Google and Apple, competing globally in the health market, with a significant capacity to invest in innovation and to attract the best development partners. They have a comprehensive power to catalyze change processes, through disruptive business models, user-centered products and services and interfaces designed in a simple and intuitive way.

The change is in the technology, but also in the processes

The digital transformation in the health area is not only technological, it implies changing processes, business models, innovating ways of acting and, last but not least, training health professionals with skills and tools that allow them to act in a motivated and effective way. in this new paradigm.

The year 2020 will certainly be marked as the moment that most contributed to the acceleration of digitalization in the health sector, due to the pandemic's demand, which forced a strong investment in technologies that allow a better management of knowledge and remote interaction between health professionals, as well as maintaining contact and monitoring patients with tools that guarantee the necessary social distance from everyone.

The clinics, laboratories, hospitals and other health care service providers that best understand how consumers want to use telemedicine, monitoring wearables or fitness devices, different online resources, social networks, etc., will also be in best position to develop relationship strategies that help your patients make more informed decisions, thereby leading to increased satisfaction with the care provided and well-being.

However, they can no longer neglect the capabilities that technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, the cloud, virtual reality or the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), among others, are and will continue to add to the sector.

These technologies prove to be important not only in treating diseases or performing complex procedures, but also in supporting well-being and prevention.

While robotics are able to do what humans do more efficiently, accurately and at a lower cost, AI helps, for example, to discover patterns of behavior by monitoring medical assistance devices connected to and between patients, offering huge opportunities in the field of preventive care.

In addition, knowledge gathered from various sources, including patients, connected devices and medical staff can be digitized and automated.

According to Juniper Research, the use of chatbots in the health area is expected to grow significantly, and is expected to represent an annual savings of around 4 billion dollars in 2023. Also the use of AI to support knowledge platforms, diagnosis and decision will be a growing reality in the activity of health professionals and in the relationship with patients.