Pierre Appert

CEO and General Manager of Gruppo San Donato Healthcare

Pierre Appert

“The digitization of the healthcare world will cut down healthcare spending and increase productivity and effectiveness”

Gruppo Ospedaliero San Donato (GSD), Italy’s leading private hospital group, is the premier provider of health services at all levels of care in all specialties. Its unique model is centered on the patient, and combines clinical, academic and research excellence to provide the very best tailor-made care to everyone. “Hospitals” magazine had the privilege to meet with Pierre Appert, CEO and General Manager of Gruppo San Donato Healthcare to discuss hospitals and smart patient rooms of the future and how developments in hospitals 2020 contribute to improving treatment and medical care. Below is the full interview: 

What is your vision for hospitals of the future 2020 in terms of smart design and advanced technologies?

When we think about hospitals 2020, two immediate things come to mind. Digitization & Prevention, which are at the forefront of Gruppo San Donato (GSD) digitization strategy. Year after year, we are witnessing the birth of disruptive technologies that fundamentally alter the healthcare landscape. Advanced Technologies and innovations such as TeleMedicine (TeleHealth), wearables, smart implants and AI to name a few are all catalysts towards a digitized future.

 A future that will undoubtedly transform the hospitals of today into the hospitals of the future, and we here at Gruppo San Donato are committed into making that future a reality. Moreover, the general approach to healthcare has always been reactionary. 

Now, and thanks to these technological marvels we will begin to see GSD hospitals taking a more proactive approach by utilizing Population Health tools and data collection to prevent illnesses rather than treat them. This in turn will cut down healthcare costs all the while improving patients’ quality of life. 

We would like to shed light on the digital capabilities of the hospital of the future in terms of contacting the patient’s room via an iPad or in terms of electronic medical record?

In order to achieve actual digital communication between clinicians and patients (iPad, EMR, etc..), GSD has put into motion three major steps which will completely overhaul our infrastructure towards full digital integration. We are currently in the process of creating full interconnectedness between our hospitals by using state-of-the-art technologies such as lightning-fast optical and dark fibers which will connect our structures to data centers. 

These data centers not only ensure continuity of all our businesses but also prevents loss of data and connection in case of a disaster. 

Moreover, at GSD, we are committed towards the privacy of our patients which is why we are currently in the process of constructing a data center geared solely towards data integrity, protection and recovery. 

Furthermore, teamed up with a third-party developers to create our own EMR system scheduled to be released by the first half of 2020. 

The EMR will be distributed to all GSD hospitals and will be enriched with devices such as iPads, tablets and wearables in order to create a truly digital environment. 

How can we describe the “smart patient rooms of the future”?

Smart patient rooms of the future will reach new levels of automation which will grant the patient more flexibility, freedom and independence. 

GSD will have AI placed in every room with the sole purpose of helping the patient.  Each room will be fitted with a state-of-the-art beaconing system and WiFi come 2020. 

Furthermore, an AR-inspired patient assistance system fitted with door-to-door way-finding and indoor navigation capabilities will be installed as well. Moreover, to cater to patients with visual and hearing impairments, sounds and visual indicators will guide them through the hospital. 

We should consider at length the four-dimensional medical imaging techniques and their high diagnostic ability, as well as the ability of the doctor to check them on his mobile phone. What can you tell us about it?

In order for clinicians to view and check on patients and imaging results remotely and privately, GSD is currently implementing the HealthMeeting. 

HealthMeeting is a digital and clinical platform that will allow clinical personnel to communicate on the fly and discuss patient cases and offer second opinions. These technical solutions will finally make the multidisciplinary team and patient centredness a reality in our premises and thus guaranteeing the best quality standards of care to everyone. The ability to perform operational activities, as booking services or scheduling timely surgery, will also be available physicians. Moreover, view imaging results such will be readily available to clinicians 24/7.

The implementation of this system will undoubtedly cut down bureaucratic procedures, waiting times and improve patient satisfaction. 

In your opinion, how will these amazing developments in hospitals 2020 contribute to improving treatment and medical care through the availability of elements of the healing environment?

That these developments contribute to the betterment of care is a fact as they not only improve the quality of care, but the overall performance of hospitals as well.  

The implementation of these disruptive technologies is the only way to truly improve the healthcare sector. 

The digitization of the healthcare world will cut down healthcare spending and increase productivity and effectiveness by focusing on patient outcomes and care pathways centred on patients’ needs. 

Interoperability and interconnectedness ensure that information is readily available with instantaneous data exchanges, between professionals and patients and carers. The ecosystem of information and the healing environments will be more agile and focus on the individual health and wellbeing. 

Some believe that the role of a doctor or nursing staff will diminish with the widespread digital revolution. In your opinion, is this true or does their role complement the doctor’s work and the results’ accuracy?

The end goal of this pervasive digitization is to create a more efficient and attractive healthcare system. That the roles of doctors and nurses will diminish is erroneous. The reason why these disruptive technologies are being invented is to make their jobs easier. Disruptive innovations such as Precision Medicine, Machine Learning and the increasing interconnection of EHR undoubtedly aid doctors in performing more precise procedures and giving more accurate diagnosis and opportunities of personalized therapies. Nothing will ever replace or diminish their roles, only help them achieve better results which translates into better care. The AI is far behind from replacing the professional expertise of doctors and nurses in providing care. On the contrary, GSD is investing in the digitalization and technologies to sustain our professionals’ excellence in caring, by waving them off of operations and speeding up the search for personalized treatments. 

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