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Healthcare and the City

07.10.2016

There are different players in the healthcare management environment like medical technology companies, health insurance funds that cover people’s expenses, and the health economy trying to support companies in taking care of employee’s health. Smart cities combine these different healthcare institutions to improve the life of their citizens. The following article talks about smart healthcare innovations in the cities of Dar es Salaam and Hamburg, about new healthcare innovations, problems faced and future trends.
By Zineb Doubli, Theresa Ghossain, Haikael Mjema and Aruna Valliappan

 

A modern surgery room (Photo: Olympus) 

 

What makes a city smart?  

There is no general definition for the term „Smart City“ – every industry has another view of what a smart city should look like. For example, there is Marion Spitzer, Market Intelligence and Competitive Intelligence group leader at Olympus in Hamburg, who thinks that the innovation itself isn’t the non plus ultra when it comes to defining a smart city. It’s rather important, that the invention works and facilitates workflows.

In Dar es Salaam, responsibilities place value to the optimization of the workflow as well. People living in the city don’t have to travel abroad to get a heart surgery anymore. Using new high tech equipment is improving medical treatments and is helping Dar es Salaam to become a smart city. 

 

Technical Innovations in Smart City

Since E-Health is an important topic, there are already several digital innovations, such as a smart work suit, to provide occupational safety. Meanwhile sensative smart work suits have been developed which are able to measure the pulse and body heat of hospital employees. In addition, several tracking apps are developed to replace companies’ intranets by sending employees push messages on their smartphones in order to remind them to be physically active.

 

Anne-Caroline Trede, Healthcare Manager From The Chamber Of Commerce In Hamburg (Photo: Zineb Doubli)   

Another medical innovation is, that medical systems from different manufacturers are working together in one single hospital room without any complications - thanks to new software. “Remember in the past, the doctor was with his dictaphone, now everything is digitalized and in one place with the image. It really got easier for the doctor”, so Marion Spitzer. Moreover, in this integrated operational room, the cables are integrated into the systems, to avoid tangled cables. So the surgeon is able to enter his instructions on a touchscreen without stumbling over something.

 

Woman receiving her new health update via smartphone app (Photo: Zineb Doubli) 

In Tanzania, the mobile provider Airtel has made a significant contribution to ensure that smartphones save the lives of pregnant women and young children. Starting in 2012, Airtel has contributed to the “Wazazi Nipendeni” (Maternal and Child Health) campaign by providing important information on the health of pregnant women and remind them to get vaccinated. “Information provided via SMS ensures that the unborn baby and the baby are safe” says Kelvin Muttah, project coordinator and consultant of Tanzania MHealth PPP.  

Problems faced by healthcare management

Every new innovation has to be proved by its feasibility. In terms of digitalization, the industry is facing conflicts regarding data privacy and breakdowns of systems. Without reliably functioning medical devices any surgery would have desastrous consequences for patients. "The first thing you want is that the medical system works well and without failure", says Marion Spitzer. Innovations always need to meet doctor’s and patient's’ needs. They are often limited by factors like funds, which is not only the case in the city of Hamburg but also a problem faced in Dar es Salaam.

 

Steven Tesha healing his wound after a week cardiac surgery. (Photo: Haikael Abraham)
 
Where is the healthcare world moving?

When it comes to future trends, Spitzer says, “It is the new formatting of hospitals in terms of exchanging images and downloading them”. Especially the exchange of pictures between different hospitals or even between different medical system suppliers is important to improve the healthcare management workflow in the future.  Another trend will definitely be the application of robots in the healthcare segment. “There already are robotics used as an extension for the surgeon to make operations easier“, so Spitzer, but a totally automatic working robotic, that might be the future.    

 

Marion Spitzer, Market Intelligence and Competitive Intelligence Group Leader at Olympus Hamburg (Photo: Zineb Doubli)

This reportage is part of a student exchange program of HAW Hamburg, University of Dar es Salaam, and University of St. Petersburg.
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