Tech transformation in healthcare is one of the major objectives for companies today. Be it inside the hospital through digitalised platforms or outside through traceability and tracking logistics and supply chain solutions, Honeywell is working towards providing end-to-end solutions. In an interview with Omnia Health Magazine, Miroslav Kafedzhiev, Vice President & General Manager, Honeywell Safety & Productivity Solutions, discusses how hospitals can optimise their resource utilisation. Excerpts:
How has Honeywell responded to the COVID-19 crisis?
For Honeywell, it was a significant realignment of the priorities. We put forward the products and solutions that we already had that would help the first responders, healthcare professionals as well as authorities and individuals. For example, the first thing that we did was we significantly increased our output capacity for safety masks.
Secondly, we have historically been a large producer of respiratory products, whether it is single-use masks or multiple-use respirators. The second thing was that we have also been a historical supplier for the various sensors for lung ventilators. Normally, we would be selling these sensors to various manufacturers. But all of a sudden, we ended up supplying, especially in the region I oversee, whether this is in Turkey, Russia, Malaysia, Singapore, or Brazil, tens of thousands of sensors, and every ventilator has anywhere between four to six sensors. We helped in producing thousands of ventilators quickly.
The third one was that the moment when the lockdown started, e-commerce basically exploded upwards. This required a significant increase of the capacity of volume that was passing through the distribution warehouses through the points of dispatch as well as for last-mile deliveries and we stepped in and we provided our products for identification such as mobile terminals, printers, etc. That helped, especially the regional, large retailers, e-commerce companies for food and non-food items as well.
Can you shed light on some of Honeywell’s latest healthcare solutions?
Healthcare is an extremely complex undertaking, and you can’t do it by yourself. There needs to be an ecosystem of partners in place. At last year’s GITEX, we demonstrated the outcome of one of these ecosystem partnerships, together with our healthcare partner Influence Healthcare International, where we showed an end-to-end digital healthcare solution that was blockchain-enabled and running on mobile devices. The path forward for the technologies that we’re bringing jointly aimed at several things. One is for safe deployment of end-to-end digital solutions in the hospitals as well as significant optimisation of the resource utilisation, as well as the asset increase utilisation site in the hospital while at the same time providing a better and safer healthcare service from the service providers such as hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and polyclinics.
For example, you would normally go through several steps before you see a doctor – you take an appointment, coordinate with insurance companies etc. What we demonstrated was the ability and capability to actually deploy a solution where from the moment you arrange your appointment through a mobile phone up until you see the doctor, you actually don’t have any interaction with anybody. Basically, you are able to receive contactless access and care all the way to the doctor in a scheduled and sequential manner without the need to spend time in queues or setting up an account again and again. The important factor is to ensure that when the person does get care, there is simultaneous real-time, multiple points of entry, multiple points of management of the information for the patient and the care at scale. These solutions are already deployed in a hospital here in the region and we are in discussions with multiple other hospitals to evaluate this offering.
The one thing that we’re trying to break is a certain misconception that a lot of the healthcare provider staff have about digitalisation. You can digitalise one form and it’s going to give you a small incremental improvement. But the solution we are putting on the table is actually scalable. It’s ultra-safe, and it is subscription-based. In a lot of the cases, there is even an opportunity to talk about performance-based healthcare service, which is based on, for example, working capital optimisation, which includes levels of inventory, the number of patients, waiting times, turnaround time, account clearance etc. The ultimate goal of every healthcare provider is to provide high quality, super safe healthcare service. While at the same time, you’re actually doing it with an optimised inventory. And you’re doing it profitably.
What are the major healthcare market segments that are likely to expand in the near future?
At the moment, we are in discussions around more connectivity and offering a care communication platform between the patient and the healthcare provider. We have a solution that we launched in the second part of this year, which has the ability to connect, for example, all the diabetes patients inside a country with the hospital and provide in real-time their daily status and inputs about blood sugar, insulin intake, etc. This offers the ability to provide care and the ability to manage and monitor patients remotely outside of the hospital in the care of their home. That’s where we are actually seeing expansion.
The second area that is coming in is about the true actual digitalisation of the healthcare service. This refers to structural digitalisation including the ability to actually be connected and be mobile. At the moment, healthcare providers still have a lot of paper forms. If you look at the percentage of how much information exchange is done through drop-down menus, versus through text, currently, around 20 per cent is dropdowns. Ideally, there should be a voice-enabled digital exchange or the interface between the care provider and the actual healthcare system. That’s where we are seeing the big opportunities that could drive changes in the healthcare industry.
The other side is tracking and traceability of medicines and vaccines. Honeywell is probably the only company in the world that has an actual tracking and tracing solution, from manufacturing all the way to end-user of medicine, tobacco, meat, etc., but also have the capability to deploy and manage these devices. We are even in the position to deploy vaccine tracking.
For vaccines, the priority right now is more around the ability to procure it and bring it as fast as possible to the people rather than the ability to actually track and trace it 100 per cent. We understand that this is an opportunity for us to talk and to put forward solutions that we have used historically in both pharmacy as well as in tobacco. But we know that this is going to come after some time when there will be much more scrutiny when it comes to healthcare supplies going forward. Based on some of the statistics we have seen, more than 20 per cent of all produced vaccines in the world are actually not used because providers are not able to validate and verify that their safety conditions have been met and the entire traceability and transparency of the procurement have not been done.