According to a 10-year projection from the Australian Dept. of Treasury, the Commonwealth Government’s spending (per person) on health is set to rise, under current policy settings. Some projections see state governments using up to 50% of their budgets on health by 2030 to fund the running of public hospitals. According to the government’s most recent report, real health expenditure is outstripping its GDP.
Furthermore, the health workforce challenges from an ageing population require an additional 120,000 nurses and over 400,000 aged-care workers. This expanded workforce will put additional challenges on healthcare leadership and test the industry’s capacity to manage and innovate in new models of care.
In the face of such demand, governments and healthcare providers in Australia are turning to technology to bring efficiencies and improve patient care.
In fact, this is happening across all industries, with organisations everywhere looking to harness new technologies to help them do things better and at lower cost. Video technology, which already exists across the healthcare spectrum, is one area that can be harnessed to bring much greater functionality.
Look at the basic premise of a security network. Due to the evolution of technology in this space, a corporation with a large office complex no longer needs an army of security guards to keep it secure 24 hours a day.
Instead, a video management system using analytics software powered by AI can do the same job by monitoring thousands of cameras simultaneously. The system can recognize anomalies — from intruders, to fires, to suspect packages — then highlight a particular video feed for further investigation by a human.
A job for many has become a job for one, but more importantly, it can also be done more effectively.
While security seems a natural application for this sort of technology, it is also catching the eye of healthcare providers. Video management systems can be programmed in countless ways and can learn over time, becoming more accurate and useful.
For instance, nursing is renowned as being one of the toughest jobs around, with many patients to care for and constant demands on a nurse’s time. Video technology has the potential to notify nurses if a patient’s dressings have not been changed when they should have been, or if a bed-bound patient needs assistance.
If an elderly person falls it can be very serious. In a home care setting, if a patient falls when few staff are on duty, they might not be seen quickly. Video technology can alert when someone falls — distinguishing movement from someone lying down on a bed or sitting on a chair — able to direct staff to the right location.
As well as helping medical practitioners improve patient care, video analytics can also increase efficiency.📷
For instance, by analyzing human behavior at different locations and times of the day, analytics can improve staffing levels by providing accurate information about where staff are being posted versus where the greatest amount of activity is. This can help managers make the best use of resources. The same sort of information can help improve emergency procedures.
Similarly, with hygiene such an important factor in hospitals, video analytics can monitor traffic and notify staff if toilet facilities need to be cleaned before they are scheduled to be.
Video technology’s ability to identify objects means it can also keep tabs on the location of expensive equipment, which can be especially difficult to track when facilities rely heavily on temporary staff.
To ensure pharmaceuticals are only handled by the right people, systems can use facial recognition to track access — or control it when paired with an access control system. For instance, a camera would recognize when an approved person approached a secure room or cabinet and grant them access, while non-approved personnel or members of the public would remain locked out.
While there are many different pieces of hardware and software that can be employed in a video management solution, most people are unaware that much of a building’s existing security infrastructure can be used to perform many of these higher-value tasks.
For instance, the existing network of cables — which is usually expensive and time-consuming to install — can potentially be used. An open-platform video management software (VMS) will also allow products made by different manufacturers, such as cameras and audio devices, to be linked to new elements such as analytics software.
Video surveillance used to be employed simply to record evidence or act as a deterrent, with many cameras looking down empty halls or at closed doors. The examples discussed here are only a few ways the healthcare industry could harness the capabilities of video, which are already being applied in other industries across the region, and the potential is limited only by the boundaries of our imagination.