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Health Tech Repair With Zero Downtime? The Industrial Internet Makes It Possible

A look at the Brilliant Hospital changing healthcare in Japan

Brilliant HospitalsJapan is known for pioneering new technology long before it hits foreign shores. But when it comes to healthcare, Japan’s hospitals are being brought into the age of the Industrial Internet, following several other high-tech hospitals around the world.

Right now, repairs on medical devices and equipment are only carried out after a problem is spotted and a product malfunctions. Today’s hospitals are increasingly hard-pressed to cope with increased demand for exams and heavier patient care workloads for their medical professionals.

A maintenance program which makes full use of new equipment malfunction predictive analysis capabilities, is reporting impressive results: zero downtime for emergency repair work, and a reduction of about 40% in downtime spent on overall repairs.

“A lot of trouble is now prevented in advance,” said Yasushi Ohyama, Chief Radiologist, Ise Red Cross Hospital. “Information such as the temperature of the equipment room is displayed with easy-to-read graphs, making equipment easy to control.”

“Downtime is being reduced through prevention and by responding to any malfunction or failure quickly, which are both enabled by the new technology. We can now better understand equipment status without always having to talk to field engineers.”

This is the Industrial Internet at work. A network of Japan’s hospitals will be given these tools to work smarter, faster, and better, so that healthcare can be made better for patients, but also doctors, nurses and hospital administrators.

Dubbed the Brilliant Hospital initiative by GE Healthcare, hospitals in Japan could be plugged into a powerful cloud network that can share, analyze, and visualize terabytes of equipment (and someday patient) data. Not only does this save time on wasteful repair procedures and help doctors see more patients in the same length of time, it also helps them spot trends and make better diagnoses in the future. In short, it helps hospitals do more with less.

In other industries connected to the Industrial Internet, calculations show that, for example, an improvement of a mere 1% in the fuel efficiency of aircraft engines, long-haul freight railway transport systems and steam-power generation could provide annual economic benefits of $58 billion (approx. ¥6.612 trillion).

The time has now come to see what benefits this kind of connectivity can have in healthcare.

The timing couldn’t have been better for Japan: as the Baby Boomers move into their late seventies around 2025, major structural changes will be required in Japan’s healthcare market. With a population ageing at a rate never before seen in the world, and total healthcare costs of over ¥40 trillion, Japan will have to overcome many unprecedented challenges.

Japan anticipates a spike in demand for medical exams, and a need to improve the operation of ageing medical devices, as well as a growing burden to meet the particular needs of a more elderly cohort of patients.

What is the Brilliant Hospital concept?

55215525A Brilliant Hospital is a hospital of the future, where patient data, medical records, and physicians’ devices all work in harmony to deliver the right data at the right time.

The hospital’s medical devices are linked to networks, as are employee and clinical operations, so that Big Data gathered from all these sources can be used to help manage the hospital.

At a Brilliant Hospital, predictive analysis can actually suggest what will happen next in a machine’s life cycle – where a breakdown will likely occur, and what to do before it does. Machine data can also be linked to patient data, and converted into an asset that makes it possible to optimize hospital management.

For instance, CT scanner failures cause  unexpected and extended downtime’s in hospitals, which impacts their operation and can interrupt patient scans.  By being able to predict in advance when CT scanner components will fail, repairs, costs and downtime can all be predicted and managed, maximizing the machine’s potential the whole time.

MRI_Still_crop_1 (1)There is a medical institution which has, in fact, already adopted Brilliant Hospital systems. At Ise Red Cross Hospital in Mie prefecture, a pilot project is being conducted under the Brilliant Hospital banner, involving the operation of three vascular x-ray devices in the department of radiology.

The end result: improved reliability of a hospital’s internal systems, more exams performed and, in turn, better outcomes for patients.

“At first, it required some familiarization,” added Ohyama. “But after that initial phase, it was easy to handle and make the changes we’d like to make on our own.”

By making sense of Big Data, the Brilliant Hospital concept makes it possible to provide patients with safer and optimized medical treatment. The transformation of the way hospitals operate will usher in a new age of intelligent healthcare. The future often starts in Japan… and the Brilliant Hospital is no exception.