Intel VP Martin Curley – digital is the best medicine for our sick health systems (video)

18 Sep 2012

Intel vice-president Martin Curley

Intel vice-president Martin Curley says that the ailing health industry needs to focus more on using digital technologies to increase efficiencies and cut costs. On average, he says the healthcare sector worldwide commits just 1.5pc of its spend to IT, compared with 15pc to 20pc in most business sectors.

Curley says the notorious efficiency and finance issues affecting healthcare not only in Ireland and the US but the world belie the heroic efforts of frontline workers. “We are missing a tremendous opportunity to transform healthcare using digital technologies. Healthcare is an information business and yet if you look at the information intensity of the healthcare business in terms of the spend compared with other industries, like manufacturing or retail, it’s by far the lowest globally.

“So there’s a major opportunity and here in Ireland we have to do more with less and there’s an opportunity for us in Ireland to almost create a Moore’s Law for the healthcare industry. At Intel we call this the ‘shift left’ where we look for specific interventions where we can use technology to not only reduce the cost of care but also to improve the quality of care.”

Curley says he has plenty of examples of situations where patients can be taken out of intensive care units (ICUs) to a different ward and even remotely monitored from home using digital technologies, like broadband.

“In the same way the semiconductor industry aligned around a road map for Moore’s Law, what I think we could do in Ireland is build a Moore’s Law so we can create a road map of what improvements we’re looking for and work together to achieve this.

“The benefits are there for the patients – better care and more often than not they can get this from home – and from the Government and the hospitals’ standpoint do a lot more with less and be more productive.”

Curley said the same approach could also be taken with education, an area that hasn’t kept pace with the march of technology. “Education is probably the single vertical that has been the slowest to embrace the use of digital technology but we’re seeing leadership coming from the most surprising places. We’ve just announced the creation of an Open Lab in Turkey working with partners like Turk Telekom to build a transformational solution for Turkish schools that can be exported around the world.

“In Ireland, we’ve always thought that we had a really good education system – we’re the land of saints and scholars – but increasingly there’s a recognition that our education system is not fit-for-purpose.

“Our students are competing in a global marketplace and this, I think, people are just starting to realise. Firstly we need to dramatically up both the investment for the use of IT for teaching and learning, but overall the overall system and just think what is education all about and what are the specific goals.

“The discussion is starting around education in Ireland and whether it gives you the skills to make a living, but does it give you the skills for living?”

Expanding Moore’s Law to new industries

Intel recently promoted Curley, the director of Intel Labs Europe and senior principal engineer, as vice-president of Intel Corporation. Curley began working at Intel in 1992, holding a number of senior IT management and automation positions in Intel in the US and Europe.

He was global director of IT Innovation at Intel before beginning his current role at Intel in 2009, where he is responsible for the company’s network of more than 25 research labs. He also serves as senior principal engineer of the Intel Labs Europe network, where he helps advance Intel’s research.

Curley chairs the European Union Open Innovation Strategy and Policy group, which advises on strategic priorities for open and service innovation. He is also a co-director of the Innovation Value Institute (IVI) at NUI Maynooth, which aims to promote structural change in the way companies and governments gain value through IT.

In a multi-screen, multi-device world, the tenets of Moore’s Law are becoming rapidly apparent. So I ask him how will these gains in efficiency and process influence other industries?

“’Servitisation’ is a very important trend. It is not something new but nobody has coined that phrase until now. Rolls Royce has been using the term ‘power by the hour’ for more than a decade and instead of selling an aircraft engine to an airline and having the airline maintain it, Rolls Royce sells hours of flight time and this has an enormous advantage for the airlines which offloads quite a bit of risk from the balance sheet and for Rolls Royce instead of one-time payments for engines they get annuity revenues.

“It’s very much in keeping with the paradigm of sustainability and increasingly some of the auto manufacturers are thinking about this paradigm.

“Rather than maximising the number of sales, maximise both the length and use of an asset and again that’s where technology can really help.

“What Apple has done for the music industry is a very good example of ‘servitisation’ and what Amazon has done with the Kindle is another good example – ultimately what you’re able to do is reduce the consumption of natural resources but also in parallel you’re making services more easily consumable and much more convenient – so there is real opportunity to create win-win scenarios.

“We have a vision that this decade will not only create and extend computing technology, but will help connect and enrich the lives of everybody on this planet,” Curley said.

Ireland’s digital leaders will be joined by international speakers to discuss Ireland’s opportunities and challenges in the age of the connected consumer, at a forum hosted by Silicon Republic on 21 September in Dublin. Digital communications expert Neville Hobson and Wired‘s editor-at-large Ben Hammersley have been confirmed as keynote speakers.

Confirmed panelists include:

  • Jeroen Hoencamp, CEO, Vodafone Ireland
  • Tanya Duncan, CEO, Interxion Ireland
  • Múirne Laffan, managing director, RTÉ Digital
  • Maurice Mortell, MD Ireland, TelecityGroup
  • Colm O’Neill, CEO, BT Ireland
  • Andrew Maybin, network services director, Tibus
  • Daniel Adams, executive director, Communications, Media & Technology, Accenture
  • Anna Scally, partner, KPMG in Ireland

Click here for full details and for keynote and speaker updates.

Highlights from the last Digital Ireland Forum in March can be viewed here.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years