Published in World
Friday, 22 July 2016 11:24

The world-leading satellite operator SES S.A. (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG), the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, and non-governmental organisation (NGO) German Doctors announced today the launch of satellite-based e-health platform SATMED in the Philippines. The SATMED solution was deployed at the German Doctors’ hospital in Buda, Marilog District, Davao.
SATMED will allow German Doctors to enhance healthcare provision and deliver accessible e- health services to remote communities on the island of Mindanao. German Doctors is one of the partner NGOs of SATMED during the ongoing pilot phase. SATMED can improve public health in developing countries by enabling multiple medical applications and tools integrated on a single platform over satellite broadband services.
The solution was developed by SES Techcom Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SES, and is funded by the Luxembourg Government. The new SATMED solution deployed in Central Mindanao will enable German Doctors to provide better quality healthcare services when they visit remote villages. Using SATMED, teams can use portable devices such as tablets to collect the patients’ data. The data collected is then processed, aggregated and synchronised securely on SATMED’s cloud platform.
SATMED’s text messaging functionality will allow doctors to keep tabs on large 
groups of patients living in remote villages, whose main form of contact with the outside SATMED will enable German Doctors to communicate with doctors and medical experts around the world via video conferencing. 
“More than 200,000 people are living within the catchment area of the Buda Community Health Care Centre – about half of those coming from the indigenous population, who often have no access to medical care and whose lives are below the poverty line. German Doctors is committed to improving healthcare services for local communities, but poor terrestrial connectivity in rural locations poses obstacles in analysing and monitoring our patients’ health problems, accessing their medical records, providing follow up of care, and managing other areas of our outreach,” said Dietmar Schug Managing Director of German Doctors.
“SATMED and its suite of medical applications opens up healthcare possibilities 
and boosts our efforts in making accessible, quality healthcare a reality for these remote “The implementation of SATMED – through satellite connectivity – makes digital imaging, e-learning and consultation, and other e-health solutions, available to the local medical community,” said Glen Tindall, Vice President of Sales, Asia-Pacific at SES. “Just as German Doctors’ work in Mindanao is vital to the local population, so is connectivity to the provision of quality healthcare, and we are proud to support German Doctors in bringing these much-needed health services closer to patients in rural locations.”

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    The life-and-death nature of the healthcare industry might be a factor to slow the adoption of new technologies in this sphere. However, the digitalization of hospitals is underway all over the world, machine learning and bots are being applied to diagnose patients, and the internet of things is slowly making its way into our bodies.

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    Which three key benefits has the healthcare industry received from technology adoption so far?

    Stephen: Healthcare has been one of the last areas to really be impacted by digital transformation. It's been widely prevalent in media entertainment industry, retail, taxes, hotels etc. The reason that technology advancement happened more quickly there is that the data was pretty organized.

    Let's take banking. I can come to Kyiv and put my bank card in, and the ATM gives me money. It knows everything about my banking story. I could not do that if I went to the hospital here and I had chest pain. Ukrainian doctors would not be able to learn much about me on the internet because the data is unstructured. Most of it is in medical records. It's written by hand. Hospital records don't speak to each other. The imaging records don't communicate with the medical record.

    Therefore, three top things in which I've seen technology impacting healthcare would be three A-s: access, affordability and accountability. 

    Most people don't have access to healthcare.

    There are 7 billion people on the planet, only about 2 billion of them have access to health care.

    We will never train enough doctors or build enough hospitals to take care of all the people. We must actually use technology to do this. That's why the evolution of wearable and implantable sensors to monitor health, their ability to connect to tablets, smartphones, to be able to monitor patient's health and advise them about it is already happening.

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    How does technology adoption in the healthcare industry work on the international arena? Which countries are the main hubs of technological advancements in healthcare?

    Stephen: There are two issues at play when you look at where technology is being used. First, it is regulation. Healthcare is a heavily regulated industry, and for a good reason. The only industry that it is similarly regulated is the airline industry.

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    The other places where you see technology being played out more quickly is where people can actually pay for it. Some technology is cheaper and that does play out in places like India. However, more sophisticated technology like an artificial heart or a new cardiac valve or a new hip replacement generally are introduced where either the system pays for it (United Kingdom), or where there is a fairly mature insurance product doing that (the United States)

    In places like Israel, the adoption of technology it's not played out because it's such a small population of people. There's no market for it. That's why Israeli companies generally develop their technologies but go to the United States or Europe to ultimately commercialize them because the market is so much bigger there.

    And what about China? China definitely has market and has capacity. And you also mentioned that China increased its spending on health care. Has China brought something to the table of global innovations in health care?

    Stephen: China does some really good manufacturing technology. But in terms of innovation, I haven't seen a lot in China, but the situation is changing.

    Healthcare, medical products come from startups for the most part. Big companies often innovate both internally and through outside sources including acquisitions and outsourced R&D. They generally buy innovation. Startups generally occur where there is venture money. Recently, there has been more of it in China. If you want to participate in the Chinese market you have to be a local company. So you're starting to see local companies being developed and funded by U.S. venture actually because that's the only way to that market.

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    Let's transition to Ukraine. How does Ukraine contribute to the world's progress in healthcare-related technologies?

    Stephen: You already are developers of innovation in healthcare. In fact, Ukraine has a lot of similarities to Israel. You have some very high-quality science and engineering. There are really good technical universities and you have a legacy of people working in the engineering environment.

    In my opinion, Ukraine has a really good opportunity to take this engineering talent and develop interesting things in the medical technology world, medical device world, automotive as well.

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    For software, it doesn't take a lot of money — it takes a lot of imagination. Ukraine's already winning at that.

    Nataliya: Software development in Ukraine is a very open and dynamic area. Our engineers have a lot of innovative ideas that we are bringing on the table to our partners. These ideas are helping our partners to review their product plans and their strategy.


    Let me show you a few examples of how Ukrainian engineers can influence the industry. For instance, there is telemedicine and there is a need to assess patient condition distantly. We have an app for skin cancer recognition. You just take a picture of your mole or some suspicious skin area. Machine learning algorithms will assess it and give a probability of some issues. But the process doesn't stop there. If you are able to connect to your doctors and send them a picture with all that assessment, they could decide whether you need to visit a clinic or not.

    We are also working on virtual reality prototypes, including the ones for Google Glass. Healthcare is not only software or systems that support doctors, the sphere also includes factories that are manufacturing all the medical instruments and devices. Our prototypes help to set up production on healthcare factories. The process is very strict there: you have to document each and every step in order to be able to review all those steps later. Technologies that we developed and provided to our customers support such recording using Google Glass. Thus, workers of the factory do not have to fill in any forms — the whole production process is automatically recorded.

    We are able to be innovators indeed. We just need open markets and bright minds that are graduating from the universities.

    Ukraine is currently implementing a healthcare reform which is mostly focused on administrative aspects: how the hospitals are organised, how the state finances healthcare etc. Digitalization of state hospitals is almost non-existent. The state spends 7.1% of its GDP on healthcare, which is not that much. In such conditions, is there a place for technological development? If yes, how should it be handled?

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    GlobalLogic engineers in Kharkiv have been developing R&D solutions for healthcare for some 15 years. How many of these developments have been actually implemented in Ukraine? And how many have been applied abroad?

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    We are also developing systems that are being applied in clinical trials in more than 70 countries across the globe. Those systems are being localized for all those different languages. We use these technologies in Ukraine as well. There are a lot of products that we see in our hospitals, airports, emergency care.

    We also produce specific products and systems for care homes. This sphere is rather developed in the U.S. and Canada, but not in Ukraine. Our care homes do not have such systems since they are not digitalized at all.

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    The trend has been persistent even during the last years. GlobalLogic has shown 32% growth of revenue in 2018 in Ukraine.

    But what is affecting us is actually the availability of professional engineers. That is what we can get from universities. We work very closely with IT departments there to influence curriculums. We teach university teachers and lecturers. We provide universities with materials for teaching. We are working with students from their first year in university and we influence all the programs. We not only influence the I.T. specialists, but we also influence the specialities that are supporting IT — business analysts, project managers.

    We do all this because we understand that that's the major risk for us. If the quality of education, the quality of an average engineer greeting from the university would fall, we as a company would fail and suffer.

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    We want to minimise that gap. That's why our engineers go to universities. They teach students. They work with them on some specific tasks. That's our major investment in Ukraine.

    The interview has been edited for length and clarity

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