Trang Hospital staff members help a visitor print out a queue card from a “smart kiosk”.
(Photo: The Nation)
The Public Health Ministry is encouraging hospitals under its supervision to tap the power of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), “Big Data” and artificial intelligence (AI).
Drawing on technological advances could improve health services and operational systems including patient data storing/management, and follows the Thailand 4.0-inspired “Smart Hospital” policy, according to Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn.
“The idea is to ensure that people efficiently receive safe and quality health services and that medical personnel have modern and effective means for seamless working, while administrators have a quality and updated health information system,” he said.
The use of IoT, AI and Big Data (large and complex data sets to be processed and analysed to reveal patterns for new insights and accurate predictions) improves the quality of in-depth analysis of health information from all angles and improves planning for appropriate services for each location, he added.
The ministry now has over 14 billion records of raw information provided via 70 per cent of state hospitals. They are stored on the ministry’s “Big Data” facilities in the Cloud system, Piyasakol said. This information can be used in healthcare policymaking to prevent and treat disease, as well as tackle health challenges faced by Thais, he said.
Hospitals can apply Big Data technology to store, analyse, process and synthesise people’s health information, as well as track the dispensing of medicine, lab operations, financial matters, equipment/supply procurement and human-resource management. This system will also help integrate the IT systems of different hospital units, the minister added.
Piyasakol said IoT technology can also be used to link systems online, such as patient queue systems, smartphone applications and electronic medical records, so hospitals can exchange patient-related information. He added that IoT was being implemented on a pilot basis now, in order to ensure adherence to an international security standard.
An e-health system like this – which includes setting doctor appointments, managing queues, access to personal health information, dispensing medicines and referring patients – will make diagnosis, treatment and access to patient information more effective. It will also cut down on waiting time, while boosting convenience and accuracy.
Piyasakol said Trang Hospital was a good example of IoT use, as it no longer uses out-patient cards and has scanned and stored online patient records. New patient information is now collected electronically, he added.