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EXCLUSIVE: Dr Rachel Coxon, Vice President, Healthcare Division, Barco, Discusses How Disruptive Technologies Help Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

When COVID-19 took the world by storm, it forced everyone to an unprecedented pause. Pivoting became the operative word, with ad-hoc solutions and band-aid measures the need of the hour. What was deemed impossible had to turn into a reality and what was once unlikely became an everyday event.

The adjustment to the new normal was not easy, especially for the healthcare sector that had to adapt overnight – both in the private and the public sectors. Health organisations across the globe faced supply, staff and support shortages for months on end even as they struggled to provide efficient and effective care for patients, frontline workers and their staff.

Truth be told, there is no going back to the old ways. The future of healthcare is here and now. For the healthcare sector, experts say that the new normal comes with an increased focus on technology-driven solutions to better predict patient outcomes and increase consumer connectivity. The sector has to embrace evolving telehealth expectations and defend the next generation of medical IT infrastructure

OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak exclusively to Dr Rachel Coxon, Vice President of the Healthcare Division, Barco, NV Belgium’s Asia-Pacific Operations. Rachel is a veteran business leader with over 14 years of experience in building and growing both large and medium-sized organisations in the healthcare industry. In her current role at Barco, Rachel leads the healthcare segment to establish commercial strategy, build strong cross-functional relationships with internal and external customers, lead teams and deliver business results.

The current pandemic has forced a rapid development of technology, particularly innovation that helps social distancing, monitoring and tracking. Barco aims to develop technology to improve healthcare, including enhancing patient care and efficiency. Rachel emphasises the importance of having a complete understanding of different aspects of technologies in healthcare, such as information technology (IT) and cybersecurity.

Digital technologies in healthcare have been permeating all aspects and all departments in a hospital and healthcare. From common and well-known technologies such as video consultation, electronic health record and electronic test results to more advanced ones such as teleradiology – digital health tries to address as many areas of patient care as possible.

Barco is known for creating best-in-class diagnostic display systems that boost diagnostic accuracy and workflow efficiency that in turn, instils radiologists with a high degree of reading confidence. Teleradiology encompasses obtaining the medical image from the patient through X-ray or MRI followed by sending the image and then viewing the image for diagnostic or consultation purposes. As the demand in teleradiology escalated, the company has developed and manufactured the diagnostic displays that enable a radiologist to view the image anywhere.

Proprietary remote radiology reading solutions ensure dependable imaging when radiologists are working outside the hospital walls. Built on an innovative graphics box, this solution has been designed to ensure the same level of quality, security and performance radiologists get from medical workstations inside the hospital reading room.

Barco’s deep expertise in image processing can be applied to many fields. Image processing forms the basis of teleradiology and how to manage the images or videos in an operating room. Nexxis is Barco’s video-over-IP platform for the integrated digital operating room. This unique technology platform has been specifically designed for the integration of audio and video sources in the digital OR.  Every part of the solution has been designed and approved for use in a surgical environment.

Nexxis integrates high resolution, uncompressed medical images that are presented with pixel-perfect precision and it meets every requirement of any surgical procedure. The solution also enables fast and lag-free transmission or routing of images, audios and videos. Medical images can be streamed in, between, and outside operating rooms in real-time. Certified as a medical device (CE/FDA), the technology is fit for use in the interventional operating room.

Nexxis has multiple different options, such as the recently-launched product called NexxisLive which is a cloud-based solution for remote surgical collaborations. This technology enables teleconsultation in surgery. While the surgery is ongoing, the surgeon can consult with an expert surgeon who is in another location; so the remote surgeon can view the high-quality video in real-time.

Surgeons can also annotate and write on the video to point out key aspects. In addition, NexxisLive enables remote teaching. Students from different locations can dial in and view the surgery in real-time, facilitating the study of multiple surgery cases remotely.

Another exciting example of a technological application in healthcare is the use of image processing expertise in dermatology. Demetra from Barco is a groundbreaking multispectral digital imaging platform for a skin examination. Demetra identifies unusual image patterns to detect skin cancer and precancerous lesions.

Traditionally, a dermatologist will look at someone’s skin and the assessment will be subjective and static. People can get conflicting diagnoses and results of their skin conditions from different dermatologists consulted at different times. Misdiagnosis and inaccuracies often occur using the current way of assessing skin. Demetra captures images, reads and stores them. This allows a dermatologist to see any subtle skin changes. The U.S. and several European countries have adopted Demetra, and Rachel aims to bring this technology to Asia-Pacific.

As a medical device manufacturer, Barco is concerned with user safety and security. They are always up-to-date with medical device regulations in the countries they serve. Compliance with the latest regulations includes cybersecurity and data usage. When Barco designs a medical device, they view the design requirements and the needs from three areas – clinical aspect, user-friendliness and resource efficiency.

The vision is to create medical devices that improve patients’ outcomes, enhance the quality of diagnosis, boost the devices’ comfort for clinicians. Medical devices need to increase the efficiency of hospital resources and enable a quicker and more accurate diagnosis.

In closing, Rachel emphasised the need for those who work in healthcare to be exposed to more technology-related topics. In the current era, education in IT and cybersecurity is more necessary than ever. Rachel encourages everyone including vendors, clinicians, even patients to learn more about digital health as this area is no longer only the realm of IT and tech experts.

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