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Healthcare IT through the lens of emerging markets

 

 

In the western world, healthcare systems are struggling with a number of challenges, from aging population and the rise in chronic diseases, to an increasing clinician shortage. While emerging markets are also under similar pressures, these areas of the world are battling a number of other challenges on top, like infectious diseases, infant mortality and access to food, water and basic medicine. As some of the leading minds in healthcare IT convene this week at the HIMSS Conference in Chicago, I’d like to look at how technology, data and informatics is changing the game for emerging markets:

Building a healthcare infrastructure – Access to better data and analytics will ultimately enable some of countries in the emerging markets to establish a stronger healthcare infrastructure. When it comes to treatment and prevention, each market has different needs, e.g. the threat of acute infections or traumas cases like fatal burns, which are still a very real problem in many countries. Using technology and data to gain an understanding of how diseases are developing and where they are occurring can help determine not only the treatment needed, but also the resources required to build or expand an infrastructure. It can help these markets answer the questions of how many clinics, how many hospitals and how many nurses are needed, both in quantity, but also in capability.

 

Understanding disease development – While chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are rising as a major health concern in Western countries, they are also becoming a growing problem in some emerging markets. Without quantifying and tracking the problem, developing countries are unable to put effective programs in place around treatment or prevention. Informatics and data will play a major role to help these countries gain a handle on these newer, Westernized diseases. Building cardiology registries or implementing and tracking breast cancer screening programs allows these countries to gain a fully aggregated view of the care processes, and then in turn, further improve care infrastructure.

 

Connecting data for disease management – Access to healthcare and affordability is an issue for most emerging markets. And while personal activity trackers might not make yet sense for most individuals in those communities, there is a very important role for connected health. Data and technology will guide the development of telehealth programs and institutionalize access to health data and information. On the diagnostic side, wearables and the miniaturization of devices are already becoming a reality in these markets, and their role will continue to evolve as access to a connected world with more data expands the reach to healthcare programs. This means that patients can get connected to experts and knowledge that is not locally available, improving timely diagnosis, treatment and disease management.

 

It’s exciting to see the scope and possibilities that broader access to data can provide. And, as more and more healthcare organizations across the country, and the world, continue to gather this data, with the right analytics tools, we will see more exchange of ideas and knowledge that can help reshape the future of care, making a difference both in mature and emerging markets.

Peter Ziese  

Dr. Peter Ziese, Head of Sales and Marketing, Patient Care and Monitoring Solutions, PHILIPS Healthcare

Dr. Ziese started his clinical career 1990 at the University Hospital of Tuebingen in Germany where he specialized in anesthesiology, with interest in pediatric and cardio-thoracic cases. He further specialized in intensive care and emergency medicine.

 

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