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Making precision healthcare a reality in Asia Pacific

Nurdianah Md Nur
Nurdianah Md Nur11/9/2022 11:25 AM GMT+08  • 6 min read
Making precision healthcare a reality in Asia Pacific
Thanks to technological advancements, patients can expect to receive individualised treatments and disease interventions in future. Photo: Unsplash
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Healthcare is one of the major concerns for Asia Pacific. One in four people in the region will be over 60 years old by 2050.

Moreover, an estimated 62% of deaths in Southeast Asia are due to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer. Healthcare systems in the region are also ill-prepared to respond to major crises, as evident from the struggle of most healthcare institutions to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fortunately, advances in technology and medical science are ushering in the era of precision healthcare. By taking into account patients’ genetic make-up, medical history and lifestyle choices, precision healthcare will enable more accurate diagnoses and the delivery of highly personalised treatments.

“Precision healthcare can help reduce waste or inefficiencies in the healthcare system. Patients will only need one consultation because the first recommended treatment will be the correct one. They also do not have to occupy a hospital bed if they can recuperate at home as the hospital can monitor them remotely and connect with them virtually when necessary,” Elie Chaillot, president and CEO for Intercontinental at GE Healthcare, tells DigitalEdge.

A platform that aggregates and analyses data

Delivering precision healthcare requires leveraging a platform that helps to integrate and analyse data from various sources like GE Healthcare’s Edison Digital Health Platform.

See also: Digitally transforming to meet ever-changing organisational needs

The platform enables healthcare organisations to effectively deploy clinical, workflow, analytics and AI tools, which would support the improvement of care delivery and operational efficiency. It can also help increase revenue growth while reducing the IT burden that typically comes with installing and integrating apps across the enterprise.

“The Edison Digital Health Platform indexes and aggregates patients’ data from multiple sources — such as electronic medical records, blood tests, and medical devices like an electrocardiogram (ECG) — which helps healthcare organisations reduce the need to search across various, disparate systems to access relevant patient information. It also uses advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to generate actionable insights that can improve patient outcomes,” says Chaillot.

He continues: “But this platform will not replace the doctor. It’s more like a car GPS navigator, which shows you the best route to your destination; but the driver still needs to drive and control the vehicle. So in the case of the Edison platform, the doctor will always be in the driver’s seat, even though the platform can empower them to provide more accurate diagnoses faster.”

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He also highlights that interoperability of healthcare apps and data is essential for precision healthcare. This is why the Edison Digital Health Platform is designed to support the integration of apps — regardless of whether they are developed in-house by the healthcare provider or third-party developers — into existing workflows.

As such, healthcare providers can select best-in-class and preferred apps safely and securely, without the typical requirement of multiple individual integrations or being locked into a single vendor. In addition, the platform can be scaled across cloud, server, data centre or on-device deployment.

Accelerating the region’s adoption of precision healthcare

Besides developing its own solutions, GE Healthcare is partnering other organisations to further accelerate the adoption of precision healthcare in Asia Pacific.

For instance, GE Healthcare and Seoul National University Bundang Hospital (SNUBH) are working together to support and accelerate the testing and development of clinical applications on the Edison Digital Health Platform by Korean start-ups.

By installing the platform, SNUBH anticipates rapidly and easily expanding upon its AI offerings across the enterprise. It plans to become a global example of how to effectively and efficiently develop and deploy AI models.

“Our collaboration with GE Healthcare will help us accelerate digitalisation in patient care and contribute to improvements in South Korea’s public health by boosting disruptive start-ups that deliver the best solutions for quality and affordable healthcare to customers faster,” says Nam Jong Paik, president and CEO of SNUBH. “Start-ups can innovate in a safe and secure clinical environment and receive clinical and business mentoring on their applications.”

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There is no one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare transformation. Open innovation to crowdsource ideas and co-create solutions is the secret recipe for this transformation. Collaborations with local players are also key to customising and improving healthcare access, care delivery and patient outcomes.

Elie Chaillot, president and CEO for Intercontinental, GE Healthcare

He also shares that GE Healthcare is partnering National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) to improve cancer care. The partnership aims to spur the potential for more tailored treatment options for specific cancer types and offer the potential to evaluate clinically significant information along the patient journey for a healthcare provider’s efficient decision-making, leveraging AI and text processing.

“NCCS continually engages the latest digital innovations to improve the delivery of cancer care for our patients. This collaboration combines the strengths of our clinical perspective and deep expertise in oncology care, analytics and translational research with GE Healthcare’s global reach, innovative technologies and services,” says Associate Professor Iain Tan, senior consultant and director of Research at NCCS’ Division of Medical Oncology.

“We hope to leverage next-generation digital tools to enhance the integration of cross-disciplinary information, augment clinical decision making and improve outcomes for our patients.

The new face of healthcare

To further enable precision healthcare, GE Healthcare is looking into homecare solutions too. In May, the company announced that it will invest up to US$50 million ($70.6 million) in Israeli start-up Pulsenmore, which offers homecare ultrasound solutions.

Pulsenmore’s self-operated prenatal home ultrasound solution, for instance, enables pregnant women to self-scan for remote clinical assessment by their healthcare provider.

GE Healthcare will partner Pulsenmore to distribute its products in Europe and other markets as the products become available for commercial distribution.

They will also collaborate closely on developing ultrasound-based healthcare offerings that cater to the burgeoning homecare market, which is expected to reach US$662.67 billion by 2027 and poised to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.2%.

Thanks to advancements in technology and changing patient expectations, traditional healthcare is gradually being phased out. One-size-fits-all therapies will be increasingly replaced by individualised treatments and disease interventions, enabled by the growing availability of data, interoperable systems, homecare solutions and teleconsultations, says Chaillot.

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