A Quick Guide to Edge Computing in the Healthcare/Health-Tech Sector

a quick guide to edge computing in healthcare/health-tech sector - zsah

As the healthcare sector increasingly turns to digital solutions to improve patient care, edge computing is becoming an essential tool for healthcare professionals and health-tech startups. Edge computing allows for real-time data processing and can power AI and machine learning applications.

In this quick guide, we'll explore how edge computing is being used in the healthcare/health-tech sector and some of the benefits it offers.

What Is Edge Computing?

Edge computing is a term for data processing and storage at or near the edge of a network, as opposed to in a centralised data centre.

Companies use edge computing to process data in real-time, which is critical for healthcare applications where time is of the essence.

info graphic for edge computing - zsah

(Image source: TechTarget)

In today's competitive world, it's critical to have access to data at its source. Data centres close to the source deliver several compelling business advantages, including faster insights, quicker reactions, and greater bandwidth availability.

How Does Edge Computing Work?

Edge computing distributes computation and data storage away from centralised locations like data centres and clouds. This architecture allows for real-time data processing at or near the source of the data. When combined with 5G networks, the speed and reliability of data transmissions improve.

Some examples of edge computing devices in healthcare include:

  • Network Attached Storage (NAS)
  • Smart clients
  • Executors
  • Sensors
  • Robots

The growth of edge computing is necessitated by the snowballing of devices connected to the internet and the volume of data these devices collect daily. Transforma Insights estimates that edge computing devices will grow from 2.7 billion to 7.8 billion between 2020 and 2030, primarily driven by the incorporation of onboard edge capabilities in IoT devices.

graph over edge enabled devices - zsah

(Image source: Transformainsights.com)

How Edge Computing Drives Better Outcomes in Healthcare

In healthcare, edge computing processes data in real-time, which is critical for situations where every second counts. Edge computing is making healthcare more connected and efficient. Below are a few examples of how edge computing is driving better healthcare outcomes.

Patient Data Transmission and Security

Many healthcare practitioners and organisations seek technology solutions that decentralise the administration system and free medical professionals to spend more time treating patients.

Edge computing makes this possible by storing data closer to the point of care, thus improving latency. It also eliminates time-consuming tasks, like physically transporting medical records. Edge computing also helps to improve data security as critical patient information is not transmitted over long distances where it is more vulnerable to being hacked.

Several health-tech startups are developing edge tools that incorporate AI and adaptive technology into data management to streamline workflows. Some applications also allow medical professionals to access notes, data, and care alerts in real-time. In addition, IoT-based mobile monitoring and telehealth applications transfer patient data from ambulances to the ER while en route. This allows ER teams to make treatment decisions before the ambulance arrives.

Diagnostics

In many cases, diagnostic testing requires specialised laboratory equipment that can take days or weeks to process results. With edge computing, this time is reduced to hours or even minutes as tests can be run at the point of care or through wearable devices containing sensors to monitor blood sugar, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and other vitals.

This is particularly beneficial for patients with chronic conditions who need to be monitored regularly. In addition, for older patients and those with cognitive impairments, this can be a lifesaver as it allows for the early detection of health issues and potential problems.

Telehealth and Patient Monitoring

Telehealth is one of the most visible applications of edge computing in healthcare. It has been instrumental in providing care to patients in remote locations and has been used to connect doctors with patients in underserved communities.

Medical professionals can now keep tabs on their patients at hospitals and care centres and when they are alone at home, thanks to connected devices. Video conferencing, which allows for faster and more flexible communication, allows patients to connect with their doctors while connected wearables immediately transmit health data to patient management systems around the clock.

Robotic Surgery

In many cases, edge computing and 5G networks are being used to power robotic surgery. These systems allow for more precise and less invasive procedures. They are also being used to connect surgeons with patients located far away.

Robotic surgery is made possible by installing cameras and other sensors on surgical instruments. This data is then transmitted in real-time to a computer that processes it and guides the surgeon.

Optimising the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

The pharmaceutical supply chain is another area where edge computing is revolutionizing. By tracking drugs throughout their lifecycle, from manufacture to dispensing, it becomes easier to detect issues such as counterfeiting, tampering, and expiration date violations.

Companies use this information to improve the efficacy of the supply chain and ensure that patients receive the medications they need when they need them.

Infection Control and Public Health Improvement

In the age of pandemics, infection and pandemic control is a major concern for healthcare organisations and public health officials. Edge computing is used to monitor patients for signs of infection and track the spread of disease.

Officials then use this information to improve infection control protocols and treat patients promptly.

How to Leverage Edge Computing in Your Healthcare/Health-tech Company

Edge computing is shaping the future of cloud computing, and healthcare/health-tech organisations would be wise to start preparing for it. Your company can improve performance, security, and scalability by leveraging edge computing. If you're interested in learning more about how edge computing can benefit your organisation, contact zsah today. zsah is an award-winning managed cloud, data & analytics, and digital services provider. Our team of experts would be happy to discuss the possibilities with you.

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