Khon Kaen City, the ninth largest municipality in Thailand, has come up with a smart health project whose main components are a smart ambulance, preventive healthcare service and blockchain and data analytics, with the aim of creating a seamless emergency medical system.
The city’s smart health project, which is expected to be completed in 2019, is being initiated by local healthcare service providers, academia and the government.
Smart health innovations explained
The first component is the smart ambulance, which uses teleconferencing, internet of things (IoT) and robotics technology, which the city hopes will make the dispatching of ambulances more efficient.
“The alerts will be triggered from smart devices that the patient owns, and the smart ambulance service will be dispatched. This enables initial diagnostic work and emergency treatment to be administered before the patients even arrive at the hospital,” the HIMSS Asia Pacific website said.
Closely linked with the smart ambulance is the smart ICU, which the Khon Kaen describes as a predictive tool being developed to alert physicians before a patient’s condition deteriorates. The ambitious project will have the capabilities of integrating data from respirators and other monitors, which it analyzes using cloud artificial intelligence (AI) tools. One example presented demonstrated how the AI system can predict the desaturation of blood oxygen 10 minutes in advance.
The second aspect of the smart health project, which focuses on preventive health, uses smart wristbands and smart home solutions, which Khon Kaen will use to monitor and collect health data from citizens, while also telling them of what medical options they have.
This component, which was started mid-2018, targets elderly people with the aim of using wearables to help them “overcome the challenges brought about by the silver tsunami by using affordable technology and existing infrastructure.”
“Preliminary data from 30 elderly subjects revealed the acceptability of [a] smart wrist band. Additional devices in the project include ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, self-monitoring glucometer, accelerometer, and static dining table camera,” it was reported.
With such a small sample size, Khon Kaen did not say how much it expected to save in healthcare costs with this preventive health solution.
The use of wearable devices has grown exponentially over the years, especialy in the U.S., where they have been mainly used for diabetes prevention and monitoring, asthma, cardiac rehabilitation and pulmonary rehabilitation.
The last component – which uses blockchain and data analytics – is still in development. Khon Kaen hopes that when functional, this will be a medical data-sharing platform that can be accessed by both public and private healthcare service providers.
The platform will harvest electronic medical records from healthcare providers, which will lead to “health analytics and prediction by machine learning in the future. Personal health data from participating providers can also be exchanged using the secure ‘blockchain’ platform leading to enhanced point-of-care information.”
The smart health project comes at a time when healthcare costs in Thailand are reportedly growing at a faster rate compared to the country’s gross domestic product per capita. This heightens the need for Thailand to come up with innovations to ensure health costs do not become a burden to the country’s economy.
Innovations and use of technologies at heart of Thailand’s economic thrust
Khon Kaen’s smart health project was initiated by Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA), which is supporting ideas that show best practices in urban innovation and use of technologies.
The Khon Kaen smart health project, together with Phuket’s Smart Tourism and Living Communities project, were named by the International Data Corporation (IDC) as being among the most outstanding smart city projects in the Asian Pacific (excluding Japan).
The IDC is a global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets.
“Both the winning projects illustrated the best practice of urban innovation with ultimate focus on the use of technologies (cloud, platforms, analytics, IoT, mobile solutions) and data, unique partnerships, funding models and/or community involvement,” the IDC said in a statement.
In addition to Khon Kaen and Phuket, Thailand has identified Chiang Mai as candidates for transformation into smart cities. This is part of Thailand 4.0, an economic model that seeks to transform the southeast Asian country into a high income nation. The smart cities project was launched in 2017, with the Thai government granting it $11 million.
“We believe that the achievement in building robust smart cities will help attract both foreign direct investment and skilled labor,” Jarit Sidhu of IDC’s Thailand office, explained.