By Garrett Ilg, President of Oracle JAPAC
Futurist Alvin Toffler once called technology “the great growling engine of change.”
That’s truer today than ever before. Among the seriously complex problems technology innovators are helping the world take on — climate change, hunger and poverty, biodiversity, and barriers to education — none is more urgent than advancing health science and improving care.
Cloud-based high-performance computing capacity is helping medical researchers discover and develop new and safer treatments. Online registries and workflow software are revamping clinical trials to get life-saving drugs and vaccines to market faster. Repositories of medical history, genomic, demographic, and other forms of data are starting to give clinicians the information they need, when they need it, to make more accurate diagnoses and improve health outcomes. Telemedicine platforms are extending quality care to the most remote areas while reducing the cost.
As we observe the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Health Day on April 7, I want to celebrate the people and institutions on the front lines of healthcare worldwide — especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Their steely dedication and relentless innovation have produced multiple, highly effective coronavirus vaccines in record time. They’ve administered close to 460 million doses of those vaccines, according to the WHO, saving countless millions of lives. And they’ve treated a large subset of about 125 million confirmed cases, often at great personal risk and with insufficient resources.
Oracle’s National Electronic Health Records Database and the Oracle Public Health Management System, built by a global team that worked round the clock, in partnership with government and non-government institutions, played a critical role in that Herculean effort. In addition to electronically screening hundreds of thousands of volunteers for COVID-19 clinical trials, the system has collected millions of daily health updates from patients and healthcare providers. It was designed from the ground up to scale to the populations of entire nations as COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available.
Front lines of patient care
More often than not, however, healthcare innovations aren’t the product of some centrally orchestrated master plan. Instead, they take the form of many thousands of individual initiatives — some of them coordinated, but most of them purpose-built.
As the leader of Oracle’s JAPAC business, I have a bird’s-eye view into such front-line healthcare innovations across our diverse region.
One dynamic example is Pharmaniaga Berhad, the largest integrated pharmaceutical group in Malaysia, which is using Oracle Cloud logistics and Internet of Things applications to efficiently and safely deliver COVID-19 vaccines to health facilities across the country. Hulunbuir People’s Hospital in inner Mongolia used the Oracle Application Express (APEX) low-code programming tool to build and deploy a laptop-based application in just three days to digitize its admission processes, eliminating a paper-based one that risked spreading the virus. Researchers at South Australia’s Flinders University, working with local drug developer Vaxine Pty. Ltd., conducted heavy-duty testing of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate using Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.
Beyond COVID-19, an inspiration to me is India’s Narayana Health (NH), the largest heart hospital in the world, which started in 2000 with a single mission: to never turn a patient away for lack of funds. Today, NH serves 20,000 patients a day, many of them children, from its 30 centers across the country. Those patients generate billions of lines of data, including financial and operational data. The hospital system is using the Oracle Cloud ERP application suite to organize and analyze that data in order to run a more cost-efficient organization so that it can fulfill its mission. “We believe in God, but for everything else we need data,” says NH chair Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty.
Another inspiration is Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, the first charity-based cancer hospital in Pakistan, which is using a variety of Oracle technologies to organize and analyze patient data to improve diagnoses and treatments. “What’s exciting is that data is giving our patients new hope,” says CEO Dr. Faisal Sultan.
On a smaller scale is Shifa International Hospital, a 550-bed tertiary-care hospital in Islamabad, Pakistan, which is deploying Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to help deliver doctor consultations, lab results, and other health services to patients at home. The service, accessed via a third-party mobile app, reduces wait times and the risk of infection while easing the burden on the hospital itself.
The most wonderful thing about these technological advances is that they’re available to everyone so that even the smallest medical labs and healthcare practices can serve as engines of change, even if it’s to save or improve just one life at a time.