‘What's your name and what position do you hold?
Mirko Bass, Business Development Manager, Cisco Systems Inc.
What are your day to day responsibilities?
•building community and creating meaningful opportunities to bring together people, ideas and exponential technologies for a greater good
•driving country-specific Initiatives helping Government, Industry and Academia becoming more competitive by leveraging information and communications technologies to transform their businesses
•developing solutions which can meet the increasing needs arising within and around the public sector market
•working closely with industry consortiums, standard bodies and government senior leadership councils to develop and shape technology policy
•shaping communication strategies and organisational change to improve service effectiveness and reduce costs for government agencies
•frequent speaking on people, culture and innovation incl. TEDx, republica, Singularity University, WIRED, Mobile World Congress etc. and corporate executive events
What is your professional background?
Bachelor‘s degree in Information Technology and Economics. Additionally, a Californian Singularity University Alumni on Exponential Technologies. I believe strongly that the real value is happening at the intersections of industry segments and architectures and the network is the glue that captures this benefit while connecting everyone, everything, everywhere - all the time.
How do you think the healthcare sector is coping with the Covid-19 crisis?
We face many issues in our road to an inclusive recovery and are seeing that COVID-19 continues to present challenges that technology is solving by building bridges across communities, government, healthcare organisations and others. Big challenges require big solutions. But when it comes to technology for coronavirus vaccine access and administration, many of those big solutions already exist.
Over the last nine months, Cisco has been helping to ensure that these essential organisations have solid core network infrastructures, adding capacity with field hospitals and drive-through facilities, connecting isolated patients to loved ones, and enabling telehealth at a massive scale.
Our most current challenge is that the vaccine administration process is leading to a lot of questions. Which phase am I in? How do I make an appointment? Why haven't I heard from my doctor? Where do I go? Administering vaccines is not a new concept; however limited availability, allocation and phasing approaches are causing confusion. Cisco has been involved in helping with vaccine administration in a few different ways. This is nothing new for Cisco, as we have trusted and proven solutions to help drive business and organisational resiliency and to help with vaccine administration.
What will be the lasting impact of the pandemic on the healthcare system?
As we begin the new year, we are optimistic about our global fight against the coronavirus pandemic. With vaccines starting to be deployed around the world and our healthcare workers seeing critical relief on the horizon, we are hopeful for what the future has in store.
2020 was a year unlike any other. The pandemic served as a catalyst for the transformation of healthcare, supported by the adoption of new, innovative technologies in months vs. years. We are incredibly proud of the opportunity we’ve had to support our customers through this challenging time. While the future is bright, there’s still much work to be done.
Until we have widespread access and uptake of vaccines, our global community will continue to struggle with the pandemic and suffer terrible losses.
Healthcare is facing global challenges. Physical capacity and the ability to scale clinical care resources for those impacted by the pandemic are critical priorities. Healthcare organisations are doing whatever they can to deliver care to populations globally, and technology can help.
Beyond the immediate needs of patients during the pandemic, we’re expecting to see long-term impacts globally on general population health. Unfortunately, many patients have put off care to avoid high-acuity locations, hospitals, ERs, and provider offices. A recent study showed that diagnosis of six types of cancer decreased by 46.4% during the pandemic. The result of delayed diagnosis is that patients present at more advanced stages and with worse clinical outcomes.
At the same time, clinicians are suffering under significant workloads, with much higher levels of stress and anxiety. This also goes for the IT staff that’s supporting the clinical environment. We must consider the role that technology can play to help alleviate clinician burnout, both in the near- and long-term.
Not surprisingly, telehealth visits have skyrocketed this year due to the increased need to social distance and limit exposure. According to a recent report by the American Medical Association, “Physicians and other health professionals are now seeing 50 to 175 times the number of patients via telehealth than they did before the pandemic. The report notes that 46% of patients are now using telehealth to replace cancelled in-person visits, up from the just 11% of patients who used telehealth in 2019”.
What will be the leading trends in healthcare in the coming years and how will the system need to adapt and change?
While the pandemic has brought tremendous devastation, a few positive innovations have emerged, and the use of critical technologies accelerated.
Patients and providers now have expanded access to virtual care, which includes applications like Webex for telehealth, population health management, administrative collaboration, care team coordination, and family visits. Virtual care technology makes healthcare more accessible for all people, regardless of their physical location or access to specialists and care providers. For providers, virtual care can help minimise burnout and decrease exposure risk, while enabling them to continue delivering care to patients.
As the number of remote devices increased due to administrative staff working from home, so did the exponential threat of cyber incursions. Cybersecurity is top-of-mind for healthcare leaders as they scramble to secure network, web, and endpoint connections. Better, more holistic cybersecurity strategies for our healthcare providers mean that sensitive patient data and virtual connections are secure.
The need to do more with less has also driven innovation in delivering location services in clinical environments. Clinical workflows are more complex now, and it’s more important than ever to quickly locate medical devices and equipment. New technologies leverage location data to enable clinical operational efficiency, improve patient throughput capabilities, and monitor asset utilisation.
Healthcare institutions are realising that their investments in technology are more important now than ever before. Not only do new technologies enable them to deliver care to patients wherever they might be, but these technologies make it easier and safer for doctors to visit patients without risking exposure to COVID-19 or other contagious diseases. Based on a recent survey by Cisco and HIMSS, healthcare organizations will continue to prioritize virtual care solutions.
The same study shows that while providers are re-allocating budgets, they are realizing that technology must stay at the top of their list. In fact, the same survey shows that mid-pandemic, there is an increase in spending on upgrading IT, in compliance, regulatory, and standardization requirements, in safety and disaster recovery, and in Artificial Intelligence.
Most importantly, we recommend healthcare organisations take a holistic approach to addressing the issues. There is a need for immediate response, but then for a longer-term strategy to deal with increased uncertainty, waves of the pandemic, the need to continue serving patients and supporting a remote workforce.
Mirko will be speaking at the 2021 Virtual Health Summit on February 10th. For more information see www.healthsummit.ie