When I was a kid, I used to love watching TV programmes with an unexpected twist. This week, as I attend Dell Technologies World, I’m reminded once again that technology is turning up in all sorts of surprising places. It’s technology with a twist!
From days to hours in the lab
Take the science lab. Scientists and doctors have made huge advances in medical research but we rarely hear about the role of technology. Did you know that Dell EMC PowerEdge R730 servers. powered by Intel’s high-powered Xeon processors and Isilon storage products form part of a next-generation solution that is speeding up genome sequencing and helping advance medical research into cancer and other serious diseases? I was amazed to learn recently that scientists can now sequence an entire genome in 22 minutes, while the process previously would have taken days. [i]
We’ve all undergone medical tests at some stage in our lives. Traditionally, pathologists prepare the sample for viewing on a glass slide under a microscope. Sometimes, they decide to re-test or seek a second opinion. Apart from the time delay in communicating the results to patients, the cost of shipping glass slides is high and specimens often get lost or damaged in transit. In fact, I believe that in some instances, health authorities are using taxis to transport slides between hospitals! Can you imagine the cost overhead and the risk of damaged or mislaid slides?
Delays in diagnosis
From the human perspective, studies suggest that slow decision making can account for up to 41 percent of delays in cancer diagnosis, adding to the awful stress already endured by patients and their families. [ii]
As the number of cancer cases continue to grow globally[iii], the number of tests that need to be applied is also increasing exponentially but there is a general shortage of pathologists with over 60% of active pathologists aged 55 years or older. [iv]
Technology to the rescue
Can technology help solve these tough challenges? The answer is a resounding yes. While reliability, speed and performance are important factors for any business, they are crucial when it comes to medical research and patient care. Picture an automated digital solution with Dell EMC PowerEdge servers processing the data while a Precision workstation is used to view the scanned images with Dell EMC Unity or Isilon providing storage capacity.
Replacing the microscope with the computer screen
Folks, this is not the future – these kinds of solutions are already revolutionising healthcare. Did you know it now takes a mere 60 seconds for a glass slide to be scanned and available for viewing in 3D at 40x magnification? The reality is that a computer can analyse samples faster and more accurately than the human eye, using a microscope. In fact, a computer can detect differences in samples that look identical to us humans.
Faster, more precise analysis
Looking ahead, this means a high volume of samples could be accurately screened by technology with pathologists focussing their expertise on the small sub-set that need clinical review. The result? Faster, more precise diagnosis of tissue samples, a better patient experience and increased diagnostic confidence. The good news is that this technology is now on the cusp of mainstream acceptance and is a great example of how limited resources can be used to cope with growing, ageing populations with chronic diseases while also achieving better results.
Analysing data real-time
If a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy visits the doctor, the big questions top of mind will be how am I doing? Is the chemo working? To address these important questions, regional clinics can now analyse the data on site in real-time, using the OptiPlex XE3 diagnostic solution and the Dell EMC PowerEdge XR2 server. Both products feature enhanced operating temperatures, which allow the technology to be used in a non-typical data centre environment, for example, the clinic’s back closet where it addresses the need to compute closer to the Edge – near the patient.
Some clinics are even taking things a step further, realizing that there is a lot to be gained from this data that they have collected and analysed. Using Dell EMC’s Isilon storage at the clinic’s primary headquarters, data is being used to predict patterns and trends, which will hopefully lead to better patient diagnosis and outcomes.
Fast record retrieval and automated medication stock systems
The list goes on. At the bedside, doctors are using all-in-one screens and data archiving systems to retrieve patient records. Many hospital pharmacies have automated medication stock intake, recording, storage and order picking with a customised desktop operating as the control unit for the solution. Streamlining these processes helps reduce the potential for human error and saves a substantial amount of time, which can help hospitals facing ever-tightening budgets.
Remote and preventative care
We are also seeing doctors using technology to remotely monitor patients with cardiac disease after discharge. With an emphasis on preventative care, there is an explosion of data with IoT wearables and appliances. Imagine using a smart toothbrush that can predict your likelihood of developing heart disease or wearing contact lens with built-in sensors that can detect biomarkers for diabetes – the ultimate in predictive healthcare!
New disease insights
Most importantly, technology is helping doctors to support patients. Sharing knowledge helps clinicians make informed decisions while large sets of clinical data and aggregated views of a patient’s clinical work-up offers the potential of new insights into diseases. Experts believe that all these developments will support the broader adoption of personalised medicine with the promise of tailoring diagnosis and treatment to patients based on their genetic makeup.
That’s our hope too – exactly why we’re investing in additional resources in this area. Expect to hear more on the role of technology in healthcare from David Warke, our newly appointed Business Development Manager for EMEA.
Dell EMC OEM is proud to play its part in revolutionising healthcare. Please join the conversation. I’d love to hear your comments and questions.
Come meet us! Visit the Dell EMC OEM & IoT Solutions Team at Dell Technologies World, Booth#1629, Mon 4/30 through Wed 5/2.
To learn more about Dell EMC OEM Solutions, visit: www.dellemc.com/oem
[ii] National Patient Safety Agency -March 2010
[iii] World Health Organization -World Cancer Report 2014
[iv] US figures -AAMC 2014