Which technologies will become game changers in healthcare?

20 Nov 2020

Image: © Nattapol_Sritongcom /Stock.adobe.com

As the healthcare industry becomes more digital, James Norman of Dell Technologies discusses the major tech trends we might expect.

Click here to view the Future Health Week series.

As EMEA CIO for healthcare at Dell Technologies, James Norman ensures that the company’s teams across Europe are able to help organisations in the healthcare industry to accelerate digital transformation.

Here, he talks about the digitisation of the healthcare industry and how emerging technologies are going to permanently change the way the sector operates.

‘AI in genomics and digital pathology is really transforming what was already a great technology into a real game changer’

Describe your role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy in healthcare?

As a healthcare specialist, I work closely with the local sales teams to ensure they have a clear overview as to where and how Dell Technologies can support healthcare customers. I support the local teams in their engagements with healthcare providers in the private and public sectors to help get a better understanding as to what they are looking to do, while supporting them with their vision and strategy to deliver.

One of the most exciting elements of my role is to work with new entrants into the healthcare market to support the development of their business models and help them to bring their solutions to patients and healthcare professionals that would benefit most.

A headshot of a man, James Norman, wearing a suit and smiling into the camera.

James Norman. Image: Dell Technologies

Are you spearheading any major product or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

We’re focused on a number of areas of transformation within healthcare. Covid-19 has changed the way healthcare providers connect with patients and the way services are provided internally. This has meant we’re now prioritising virtual care technologies and expertise to help organisations continue to treat patients and get back to pre-pandemic levels of productivity from a back-office function perspective.

We are now working with healthcare providers to implement new technologies that will support greater levels of remote care and collaborative working such as digital pathology, remote diagnostics and fully integrating primary care.

There will be a big push for digital pathology across the globe due to the increased need for the service and the decline in pathologists coming through the system. This in turn will support whole health economy transformation as pathways of care are optimised to take advantage of the benefits that this technology brings for reducing costs, increasing speed of diagnosis, reducing errors and much improved research capabilities.

How big is your team?

I am part of a team of approximately 100 people made up of healthcare field directors, technical specialists and healthcare partner managers, among others.

Our integrated team also works with healthcare teams in individual countries to provide single points of contact and ensure customers are provided with the best technology solutions that meet their evolving needs. That way our customers are able to get access to specialist healthcare support when needed but have one local point of call for their day-to-day needs.

Partners play an important role in helping us to support healthcare organisations. For example, the implementation of electronic record systems requires the coordination of multiple services and different technologies, which our partners are well positioned to manage and deliver on our behalf.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation in terms of the future of healthcare and how are you addressing it?

Digital transformation has become synonymous with healthcare transformation. Organisations within the sector have recognised that technology is the only way they are going to be able to get to the next level of efficiency and improvements of care. The technology aspect, although it continues to improve, is not really new. What is new is the mindset towards the adoption of new technologies and openness to look at pathways of care from a new angle to see how technology can enhance the patient experience.

From a technology perspective, we help organisations to understand which technologies are right for them and will enable them to deliver their goals. But to be successful, transformation needs to be embraced by all staff. That’s why we make sure the devices they use enable them to work where they need securely.

Another focus area is precision medicine and implementing new technologies like AI that improve the care provided to a patient. This area of transformation has always been seen as the ‘nice to have, but we can’t afford that’ in the past. However, with an evolving understanding of the benefits that new technological solutions bring and how they can translate in to improved patient care at reduced cost, healthcare providers have started to implement at scale.

Finally, we work with organisations on their application transformation. This is all about supporting new ways healthcare bodies interact with patients, carers, research organisations and citizens alike to ensure care can be provided to the masses for very little cost.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and in healthcare specifically?

Cloud technologies have emerged as the big game changers in health. Over recent months, people have realised that cloud is a key enabler to remote work in a scale not seen previously. However, the cost of cloud providers has hampered the potential benefits from being harnessed. In light of this and the need to analyse data closer to the source, many organisations that had moved to public cloud are now moving to a hybrid cloud model.

AI is also driving positive change across a number of areas. AI in genomics and digital pathology is really transforming what was already a great technology into a real game changer for identifying new correlations and for treating patients much earlier than might previously have been possible.

Mobile care is another area that is seeing significant growth. New solutions are coming onto the market while the increasing use of smart devices for managing patients outside of the hospital is creating new data insights. These insights are proving valuable for research purposes and real-time decision support. Link that with AI, and we are starting to see predictive capabilities emerge that alert patients when their condition is deteriorating and that they need to contact a care provider urgently.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how data can be better protected in the healthcare industry?

Care providers have long been the target of organised crime and opportunists alike. We have seen hospitals held to ransom for their patient data, putting thousands of lives at risk unless they pay.

Care providers have long had a duty of care to ensure all patient data is secured to the best of their ability. But the cybercriminals of today have an arsenal of tools that they can use, and some healthcare providers simply don’t have the internal skills or experiences to protect themselves.

The key message we always try to get across is to make sure a customer partners with an organisation that has visibility of all threat areas and can support not just when a problem occurs, but to help ensure there is a strategy in place before hand that mitigates the risk whilst providing a route to recovery in the event a cybercriminal is successful.

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.