22 Nov 2023
by Abdul Aala

Edge Computing: Empowering Healthcare To Tackle Crisis (Guest blog from VE3)

Author: Abdul Aala, DevOps Intern, VE3.

Despite the majority of the stored data emanating from healthcare and life science, the healthcare sector hasn’t been able to use that to its true potential to eliminate mishappenings. The Coronavirus Pandemic is an epic example to quote where proper coordination between healthcare facilities could have averted such catastrophic outcomes. 

But, in reality, healthcare and pharma industries do not have a lackadaisical intent but they are troubled by the absence of a proper technology that could mitigate the odds. How? For example, they do not get timely information about a patient’s vitals which could be life saving. But when you look at the larger scheme of things like the Gartner report, which claims,  by 2025, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created outside of centralized data centers which would compel the healthcare sector to upgrade for better interoperability and operations beyond borders., the need for a disruptive approach arises.  In this regard, the contribution of edge computing would be transformatory.  This article highlights the impacts we shall see under edge computing to handle such odds.

How will edge computing help the healthcare sector in the future?

Getting the right data at the right time without glitches could help the healthcare sector scale and edge computing can help in this regard through; 

Formation of Micro-Data Centers

With the introduction of the 5G network, it will not be a challenge to run heavy servers at close proximity to avail data directly instead of through channels. With that being said, hospitals can get quick access from various digital devices like smart-watches to trigger a response. For example, imagine that hospitals have quick access to the data servers of Apple’s FitBit watch to tackle mission-critical issues. 

Since these wearables will be using relays to local subscribers in the network, it can quickly lead to information sharing not just locally but globally expediting the process of care and treatment on time. With the Edge Servers forming small clusters in nearby locations, it will be easy to process data and take an actionable approach after processing them. 

Mitigating Risks While Relaying Data

Since you have set-up edge centers for your data to reduce latency and facilitate quick access, the risk quotient cannot be ruled out. To help mitigate the challenge of sharing actionable data, the edge servers integrate certificateless authentication eliminating the need for key escrows.

Hence, unauthorized access that usually happens when secret keys are exposed will not happen allowing the healthcare sector to scale at will and set-up private communication channels with the stakeholders, eliminating the risks and ensuring security for the healthcare participating network.

What Will Be The Outcome of the Above Practice?

Improving Treatments On Time

As modernization is peaking lately, the healthcare industry is building smart devices from tablets to watches to oxy-meters and beyond to serve the patients in a truly personalized way. The data from these devices are very efficient in treating patients at the right time. However, one challenge is to process such data for an actionable approach. Through the help of edge computing, the processing, analytics and storage can be brought to a nearby data server which can simply quicken the data access. 

To put that into perspective, instead of going through multiple channels back and forth which triggers  latency and slow speed of data transmission, the data can be hosted close to the source like an on-premise hospital or mobile server. So, if a hospital in the US wants to collect data from a hospital in India, the decentralized server distribution wouldn’t let that hospital call data from various intermediaries but access the same from the nearby source for the patient’s relevant illness and treat them quickly. This could be a life saving experience for healthcare empowered by digital transformation.

Mitigating Costs

The erstwhile set-up which relied on cross-operations for maximum efficiency involved sharing data with partner networks in a comprehensive manner. For example, if a network hospital in the US wants to access data with their network hospital in India, they could possibly set-up  a common server for data relay between them. Now, imagine that model when millions of hospitals are involved. The costs outweigh the benefits. But when edge computing comes to rescue, the healthcare sector can strategically deploy an optimized data management system. In this data management system, the network partners can demand for only the data that is required for the operations and in the process, they can also comply with the 1996 HIPAA guidelines.

Better Care

Patients need better care at the time of emergencies. In most cases, the patient’s real-time critical data do not reach the hospital on time. For example, in India, more than 50% of heart patients reach late to the hospital or they are denied treatment due to absence of proper technology and infrastructure. In this regard, edge computing can take the possibilities to the next level by integrating beyond radio data transmission. To put that into perspective, the current data relay model from ambulances involves radio transmission where only inputs like blood oxygen levels, respiration rates, blood pressure or general observations can be shared. But this information is inadequate  when it comes to saving lives. An edge computing communication helps in exchanging more influential information required for treating patients and saving their lives on time. 

Conclusion

We are just at the dawn of using the cloud to its full potential; however, one thing that edge computing ensures is that it has tremendous potential to transform the face of healthcare. At present, the global edge computing market is very small, valued at $11 billion, but as proliferation becomes intense, not just the adoption but also cost optimization will occur at large, improving the applications and use-cases. After assessing the trade-offs that edge computing can muster, it wouldn’t be an understatement to say that the next generation of healthcare, when it comes to tackling crisis, is not on the edge but in safer hands. 

VE3 is at the forefront of this transformative journey. As a pioneer in providing digital solution, we seamlessly integrate edge computing, ushering in a new era of healthcare delivery. Healthcare providers can now harness the power of real-time data processing, ensuring swift and informed decision-making. By bridging the gap between cloud and edge, we empower healthcare systems to respond effectively to crises, ensuring the highest levels of efficiency, security, and patient care. In a world where every moment counts, VE3 stands as a beacon of innovation, redefining the landscape of healthcare with resilience and excellence.


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Authors

Abdul Aala

Abdul Aala

DevOps Intern, VE3