Evolving Healthcare: Innovative digital technologies increase patient access, decrease costs.

Author:Orr, Vanessa

Every day, new technologies emerge that are designed to make it easier for people to connect with the things they need, and healthcare is no exception. Today's tech-savvy patients are using digital means to make appointments, check test results, remember to take medication, get answers to health-related questions, and more.

Healthcare facilities are also using updated technology to run offices and practices more smoothly, using artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure equipment remains up and running, and taking advantage of virtual training tools to provide staff with continuing education opportunities. And insurers are embracing new technologies to deliver a more positive customer experience.

Monitoring Medical Equipment

Having the right equipment to help patients is important; knowing that it will be running when it's needed, especially in the case of an emergency, is paramount. GE Healthcare uses digital technologies and AI to determine when machines, such as MRIs and CTs, require maintenance so that potential problems don't come as a surprise.

"In the past, the chance of a machine such as an MRI going down because it needed maintenance was a fairly unpredictable thing," explains Rob Reilly, vice president and general manager, US and Canada Services, GE Healthcare. "When it did happen, techs were dispatched to deal with the problem, but depending on where the equipment was, the fix could be hours or even days away."

While technicians have had the ability to log in remotely on these machines to look at fault codes and diagnose issues for more than a decade, today's AI algorithms monitor patterns in the fault detection modules to predict failures before they occur.

"We've been able to remotely connect to machines to provide remote triage for fifteen-plus years, but with the evolution of new technology, the smarts embedded in the newer machines have taken this to a whole new level," says Reilly.

"This is a huge deal in Alaska, where things are logistically challenging," he adds. "If we can anticipate a problem, we can manage where our teams need to be. And now that we have a local warehouse in Anchorage, we can even forward deploy the parts that are needed so that we can provide same-day service."

According to Reilly, once a potential problem has been detected, the remote fix rate is approximately 35 percent to 45 percent, so teams don't have to go to the hospital or clinic. "When we do need to send an engineer, about 80 percent of the time they already have a game plan and know exactly what needs to be done," he says. "The days of seeing a technician working on a machine with parts spread out across the floor are largely gone."

Using Insite as its core technology, GE's AI suite includes OnWatch and Tube Watch. OnWatch monitors systems in real-time, looking at different parameters to determine potential problems.

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