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How smarter tech can heal ailing health care system

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Life expectancy increased by five years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s, according to the World Health Organization. Furthermore, the number of people over 60 is expected to double by 2050. With health care costs set to rise as much as 21 percent per GDP in Europe by 2050, the health care system is under an unsustainable strain.

Solutions are urgently needed, for now and the future — and the answer lies in embracing new technology and collaboration. There are three key areas where hospitals could benefit from a huge reduction in costs: access to reliable energy, optimization of current energy usage and infrastructure and, finally, engaging with new technologies that keep patient care center of focus.

In short, hospitals will need to become more efficient, and do far more with less. And there are ways to achieve this.

Reliable, life-saving energy supply

Sudden loss of power at a hospital is a severe risk for patients in the operating theater or those relying on life support machines. But, what’s surprising is many of these outages are caused by unexpected equipment failures in electrical equipment rather than extreme weather.

These failures are also a financial disaster for hospitals, most of which are only just breaking even. An eight-hour power outage in a 300 bed hospital can cost more than $1 million dollars in lost revenue as operations are cancelled and patients are transferred by emergency services to other facilities.

But technology holds the key to ensuring life-saving power reliability. New power analytics can help predict anomalies before the failure of equipment so hospitals can operate optimally. Vital maintenance and part replacements can now happen before there is even a problem.

At Nemours Children’s Hospital the challenge was to provide reliable and consistent energy that helps deliver life-changing treatments to children in need, in an area notorious for severe weather and power outages. Nelson Roque, director of facilities and operations, made their goal clear, “it was absolutely essential that the power was clean and steady all-day long.”

The hospital teamed up with Schneider Electric to ensure that emergency generators restore life-saving power in 10 seconds or less and medical teams now have uninterrupted power.

How can new technology breathe life into aging infrastructure?

Hospitals often rely on aging, inefficient infrastructure which is unable to meet the pressures of ever growing patient needs.

Statistically, the average hospital room uses as much energy as two residential houses. A thirty percent reduction in energy in a three hundred bed hospital could provide enough savings to supply ten nurses, which in turn means better patient care.

GUANGZHOU, CHINA – APRIL 15: (CHINA OUT) Surgeons operate a da Vinci Surgical robot to remove the tumor at the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University on April 15, 2015 in Guangzhou, Guangdong province of China. Intuitive Surgical Inc. is an American corporation that manufactures robotic surgical systems, most notably the da Vinci Surgical System. The da Vinci Surgical System allows surgery to be performed using robotic manipulators. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

New building systems and analytics can help hospital facility directors identify what can be improved to make savings. In one such case a biomedical research facility saved $284,000 in the first year just by responding to these findings.

Installing off-grid renewable energy sources are another way to cut costs. Solar panels installed in dead spaces like hospital carparks can cut hospital bills by up to five percent.

The Moorfields Eye Hospital in London is over a century old and its old Victorian infrastructure needed a bold over-haul to turn it into a state-of-the-art medical facility.

With Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Building Operation, the hospital was able to implement an update of its building management systems, reducing expenses and improving power monitoring and environment information for operating theaters, which also improves the patient’s safety during surgeries.

Andrey Sergeeve, chief engineer of Grand Medica Clinical Centre in Siberia, had similar goals. “We needed our patients to feel secure. In the end, we got what we wanted: an integrated approach. Schneider EcoStruxure provides peace of mind, security and confidence.” And that’s not all – the new measures led to a massive 20 percent reduction in operating costs.

From: CNBC.com

Photos of robots in hospitals from google images

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