Digital driving resource efficiency
Besides having such a positive direct impact on the delivery of care, digitalization can also enable more efficient use of scarce resources, both human and material. For example, supporting telehealth and the shift of care from resource-intensive clinical settings to networked lower-cost settings and the home.
Connectivity and digital infrastructure can have a major effect in reducing our environmental footprint, by enabling ‘dematerialization’ and optimized use of resources. By 2025, it is expected there will be 41.6 billion connected devices, or ‘things’, generating 79.4 zettabytes (ZB) of data. Research indicates that the resource savings unlocked by digital information and communication technology outweigh the increase in the footprint caused by the deployment of that technology.
In the area of connectivity, software enables the integration of interfaces to exchange data between different data platforms. In healthcare, this can help prevent multiple diagnoses and reduce IT processing time.
It also enables remote interactions between caregivers and patients, and among caregivers. This could potentially reduce the need for physical healthcare facilities, thereby lowering consumption of materials and energy, as well as travel. Last but not least, digital technology enables the use of generic hardware (e.g. tablets) for computation and/or the user interface, which means less need to produce dedicated devices. Here too, our Lumify portable ultrasound service is a case in point.
Likewise, in the area of digital infrastructure – with local virtual servers potentially integrated and optimized and stored in the cloud – the resource-efficient role of software should not be underestimated.
Software allows us to create virtual resources to manage workloads. This means fewer local servers are needed, and power consumption can be reduced thanks to better CPU utilization. It also enables cloud computing, involving the use of remote internet servers. This is a positive development, as centralized data centers use hardware more efficiently, which means less CPU capacity in use. Indeed, 84% less power is used when customers use large-scale cloud providers instead of on-premises infrastructure. And the increased efficiency enabled by software also extends the lifetime utilization of hardware.
Philips PerformanceBridge is one example of how digitalization can support better and more resource-efficient care delivery. This web-based, real-time data platform aggregates data from multiple sources and integrates with the hospital’s image viewer, so that staff get the data they need with context. Operational data is clearly presented, so staff can readily identify outliers and potential improvement opportunities, also when it comes to material/energy usage.