Internet of Things set to go mainstream in GCC Hospitals
The internet of things (IoT) is quickly gaining momentum within the healthcare industry of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries.
There has been a gradual rise in IoT initiatives over recent years (according to IDC Health Insights) and in some usage scenarios, IoT services are maturing quickly toward mainstream deployment.
The firm anticipates IoT spending by healthcare providers across the Middle East and Africa to go well over $500 million in 2016, and grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.7 percent between 2016 and 2020. The GCC will be one of the quickest-growing regions within the Middle East and Africa, with IDC Health Insights forecasting that IoT spending in the GCC will increase by over 20 percent per year in some segments of the healthcare industry.
The present epidemiological trends and systemic gaps in GCC healthcare markets provide good reasons for trying IoT in virtually any area of healthcare. However; hospitals are currently ahead of the curve in terms of IoT adoption. According to a recent survey conducted by IDC Health Insights in hospitals across Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, as many as 50 percent of them are currently using some type of IoT-based solutions.
Mirroring the global trends in healthcare and other industries, IoT-enabled solutions are emerging fastest in the tracking and monitoring of people and assets (patients, staff, and various medical "things"), using technologies such as radio-frequency identification (RFID) and barcoding. However, the uses are anticipated to broaden in terms of supporting care delivery, especially in the areas of monitoring hospitalised patients, and "smart" systems for pharmacy management. Although still at a nascent stage, telehealth systems and systems for remote patient monitoring are also gaining more attention, particularly in Saudi Arabia where the gaps in healthcare coverage are more pronounced due to the country's large size and its lack of medical facilities and specialists in remote areas.
In the consumer segment, personal wellness represents one area with great IoT deployment potential. The GCC personal wellness wearables market (according to the latest projections by IDC Health Insights) will increase at a compound annual growth rate of roughly 22 percent over the next few years.
"While health, wellness, and fitness wearables have become a fashionable way of supporting healthy lifestyles among consumers, healthcare payers and providers are striving to benefit from the possible cost savings arising from their potential preventive value. Health authorities across the GCC are increasingly promoting their use as a method of encouraging healthy lifestyles. For example, the Dubai Health Authority has initiated an incentive program aimed at rewarding residents for healthy behaviour that is based on data recorded by fitness trackers." - Nino Giguashvili, a senior research analyst IDC Health Insights.
IoT has already passed the "why" stage and moved onto the "how" stage in many of the areas of possible use in GCC markets, according to IDC Health Insights.
IDC Health Insights helps health businesses and IT leaders (as well as the suppliers that serve them) in making more effective technology decisions by providing fact-based research and consulting services.
International Data Corporation (IDC) is the leading global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the IT, telecommunications and consumer technology markets. It has over 1,100 analysts worldwide and offers global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries.
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”