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Prevention is always better than cure – and smart infrastructure could help predict and avert medical emergencies, reducing the pressure on both patients and health systems.

Our medical services respond rapidly to emergencies, deal with complex clinical problems, and efficiently manage individual illnesses. But as our population ages and the incidence of chronic disease grows, demand rises inexorably and costs follow, putting strain on our health and care systems. 

In the long term, the solution will be a healthier population with fewer chronic conditions; and recent years have seen growing emphasis on improving public health. But the same dynamic applies to each individual diagnosed with a chronic disease: if we can closely monitor people’s conditions and intervene before a decline turns into a collapse, we can minimise the need for emergency hospital care – producing benefits for patients, health providers and the taxpayer alike.

Building a smart infrastructure

One way to produce such smart healthcare is to realise the potential of smart infrastructure. By gathering new streams of real-time data, building connections between asset owners and service providers, and applying digital analytics techniques, we can create a far more sensitive and responsive infrastructure.

This would enable us to identify latent deteriorations, heading them off before they turn into emergencies. And when that fails and an ambulance is required, then the same data-streams and organisational connections would support a faster and more effective response – improving patient outcomes and saving medics’ time.

Amplified benefits

A lot of technological development is already happening within the health sector. In Britain, ‘telecare’ systems monitor patients’ health in the home. In Singapore, smart traffic lights turn green when ambulances approach. And self-driving cars are coming down the road.

However, it’s connecting together new and emerging data systems, building links between organisations, and applying analytics techniques, that will combine the power of these many different changes – and vastly amplify the benefits of them. The technology is ready and the unrealised potential is huge; it’s time to act and create a smart infrastructure.

Download and read the full “Smart Infrastructure: Improving Healthcare” white paper by Dr Thishi Surendranathan of KPMG Health Advisory here.