Imagine you are in a café when you get a Facebook notification on your mobile handset about a friend posting photos from a party — and you log in to put a ‘Like’ mark on it.
Now, imagine you are a cardiologist sitting in a café when a notification tells you of a critical patient — and you receive an ECG chart on a mobile software application and quickly issue instructions.
The former is fun. The latter saves lives. The technology is similar.
Using the same technologies that let people worldwide share friendly updates and banter, doctors , paramedics and diagnosticians are coming together to bring ‘cloud computing’ — the business of using Internet-based applications to store, retrieve and intelligently use data — to the world of medicine.
Dutch multinational Philips, which has 10,000 people working in India, has developed an ‘eICU’ — an electronic intensive care unit that brings together an array of diagnostic equipment, software, computers and handheld devices to provide an ambulance-to-patient bed link that its executives describe as an ‘Intellihospital.’
“Our plan is to touch three billion lives by 2025,” said Wido Menhardt, an Austrian-born scientist heading Philips Innovation Campus here.
“We said we will develop products for India, in India,” Menhardt said. One such product is
the eICU. “Like the monitoring process in a traffic control room, an eICU can monitor patients in different hospitals 24x7 and makes key interventions at the right time,” Philips said in a note.
India has more than 900 million mobile phone connections, while 740 million people live on less than R100 a day.
Philips is connecting the two numbers through a system under which it plans to sell its eICU solutions to hospitals, so that semi-skilled health workers can feed back key data at low costs to monitor patients. Jitesh Mathur, head of patient care and clinical informatics at Philips, said such technologies can dramatically improve healthcare because it takes two hours on an average for Indian hospitals to decide to which department a patient has to be taken.
Philips on Friday demonstrated an ambulance device that can take an ECG chart, monitor blood pressure and transmit it over mobile handsets to hospitals, where doctors can be ready with the right solution before the patient arrives.
(The writer’s travel to Bangalore was sponsored by Philips.)