Advances In Healthcare 4.0 – Our Digital Future

Image Credit: IEEE EMBS 

ADVANCES IN HEALTHCARE 4.0 – Our Digital Future

Authors: Gordon Slater|Tandose Sambo 

“Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.”- Thomas Jefferson

As technology advances, so too does the quality of life of the world we currently live in. The Industrial Revolution is the starting point of Healthcare 1.0, that brought forth the advent of public health solutions. From this initial standpoint the healthcare sector evolved all the way to the current standard of Healthcare 4.0. Healthcare 4.0 is the introduction of smart medicine into our healthcare delivery, and it involves the utilization of new ways of thinking and technological applications. With the ability to utilize real time information, the medical sphere is evolving into a realm that is always advancing. 

Automation and data exchange techniques are two of the ways that the Industrial Revolution is facilitating the emergence of Healthcare 4.0. With precision medicine now accessible, it is now possible to treat patients with more comprehensive molecular diagnoses, and incorporate focuses on finer biological details such as the genotype, protein expression and RNA expression. With big data technologies, it is now possible to have joint decision making being conducted by patients and doctors, as systems are able to propose treatment plans. 

Telemedicine is a technology that the pandemic has propagated. With the advent of social distancing in order to maintain public health, it is proving to be effective in the treatment of patients. From a doctor’s consultation online, prescriptions are generated and ultimately, the prescription can be picked up either via online purchase or in store. Within the advances in healthcare, there are improvements in access to robots. Robots are everywhere, including the patient care room and the operating theatre. Robots actually improve the operational accuracy, and where necessary the relevant parts can be 3-D printed. 

While healthcare advances are still evolving, there is always room for growth and development. While many wonder if technologies like artificial intelligence will cause a shift in the job economy, this query is one that is always ongoing. Over time, our technology will replace jobs, but there will always be new jobs that people can do in order to utilize their potential. While electrocardiograms that give automatic diagnosis and the da Vinci surgical systems are still becoming mainstream in the media, there will be a while until all medical systems have these as standard practice. The beauty of all of these technological advances is that they’ll elevate job performance. With more automation, we will lean towards a world where learning is emphasized, and the manual activity will be in the hands of the machines. 

How Does Healthcare 4.0 Impact Medicine?

The Healthcare 4.0 Standard is one that utilizes technologies that are in the categories of: 

*Automation and Data Exchange through Cloud Computing

*Big Data 

*Internet of Things (IoT) 

*Wireless Internet 

*5D Technologies 

*Cryptography 

*Semantic Database Design

*5G technologies 

*Augmented Reality (AR) 

*Content-Based Image Retrieval (CBIR) 

Healthcare 4.0 embraces all of these qualities and it expands the capacity of healthcare services to deliver quality to patients. With these technologies the healthcare sector will be able to supply multiple levels of care and facilitate the transition to Personalized Medicine. The Healthcare 4.0 framework has an infrastructure that is able to link computers, storage devices, biosensors, health tracking devices, and can initiate sequences in bio-actuators where necessary. 

This interconnected framework, enables the healthcare provider to monitor critical patient parameters before, during and after surgical procedures. For critical patients, this monitoring will be the medium that will ensure that health is sustained. Any discrepancies can then be responded to and treated. Biosensors are now becoming more prevalent in the healthcare sector, and they are able to send their signals via a Decision-Making Unit or DMU. There are standards in healthcare parameters, and as a result, when signals are transmitted to the DMU, it will trace these parameters according to the patient’s history, and detect if there’s a problem. 

These activities are geared towards the decentralization of health services, and will facilitate the collection and distribution of data. Clinical trials require a lot of data, and if the collective pool of patient data can be accessed, accurate forecasting and medical decision making will be optimized. With the appropriate diagnostic tools, it will be possible to transfer patient treatment from the hospital to the home. 

As the accessibility to patient data is improved, there will be the evolution of Healthcare to the Internet of Services paradigm. This regime will enable service providers to create models that various parties in healthcare can access. With the access to information, it will be possible to ensure that in the health domain patients will have access to tools such as artificial organs, biosensors, smart devices and even smart pharmaceuticals that can dispense medicines when programmed. 

Data Distribution in a Smart Plant 

Within the optimization of healthcare, information will be distributed via the existing LAN and wireless infrastructure. In such environments it will be important that data transfer be done in a manner that is context specific, and enable data to be tracked. It will be important for data packets to have parameters such as the QR code, position of the data in the information chain, and the status of an item in the processing flow. For equipment in a system, it will be important to ensure that critical system parameters are in place, to ensure that the equipment is up and running. 

Hospital systems must be robust, and as a result it will be important for the machine performance to be known by the maintenance team, to ensure that the equipment uptime is maintained. Limitations in data processing makes workflows difficult to be deciphered. Critical care sectors and operating rooms must have equipment that is at its peak condition. 

What will a Healthcare 4.0 Cyber-Physical System look like? 

As a patient, you’ve watched several sci-fi movies about what the future will look like. The future of healthcare is actually now and is being optimized via a system known as a Cyber-Physical System (CPS). This integrated system is one that will collect real time patient data, and enhance decision making processes in a decentralized fashion. The CPS as a system communicates with people. The system works in conjunction with other healthcare systems in order to boost the system’s usefulness and productivity. These systems include systems such as the parts of the supply chain, which can detect when supplies are low, and initiate a re-order. 

The Vision For a Healthcare Model

The hospital design with the healthcare 4.0 standard is also changing. Globally, there will be a shift from the hospital-based model to a distributed patient centered healthcare model. Within the pharmaceutical industry for instance, biosensors are enabling the fusion of real and virtual worlds. In the future, with access to data, it will be possible for custom-made healthcare to become a reality. 

Precision medicine will be based on the real-time data availability that will be linked to cloud based services. Patient data that is generated in real time, will be fed to the appropriate patient management system. From the system, the relevant calculations will be made, to enable the dispensing of the right patient dosage. The body’s parameters are changing with time, and with the appropriate feedback loop, it will be possible to ensure that the adequate treatment is provided. The key enabler for all of this service will be the ability to have suitable biosensors for patients and the CPS systems. 

System safety is always factored into consideration, and as a result any weaknesses in the system such as data breaches, will have to be factored into the design. Eventually, we will reach a point where digital patient data will be readily accessible. 

Conclusion

In the future, healthcare decentralization will lead to improved diagnosis and treatment strategies. As Healthcare 4.0 technologies evolve, it will be possible for patient monitoring to be a consistent activity. Where a discrepancy occurs, the patient will be brought into the healthcare facility for more close monitoring. Smart Healthcare is here, and we will embrace it. 

Reference: 

[1] ResearchGate: Advances in Healthcare 4.0: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330412784_Health_40_Applications_Management_Technologies_and_Review

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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