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HARMAN DTS Bets Big on Virtual Healthcare

In conversation with David Owens, SVP & General Manager – Digital Technology Solutions (DTS), HARMAN

There has been a sudden spurt in digital transformation initiatives in the past year across industries. Which are the focus areas for HARMAN’s Digital Transformation Solutions (DTS) business unit?

The pandemic has had a tumultuous impact on the way people consume products and services. The rapid increase in the scale of digital transformation, which the industry had otherwise expected to take place in a span of six to eight years, took place within months. As consumer needs evolved overnight, so did enterprises shift gears and laid the foundation for technology providers to bridge the gap. HARMAN’s Digital Transformation Solutions (DTS) business unit is dedicated to blending the physical and digital to make technology more dynamic in order to serve the ever-changing human needs.

Our team of over 7,000 employees, spread across 12 countries in 45+ locations, with their expertise across hardware, software, and industry domains are constantly delivering cutting-edge technology solutions to over 200 clients globally. Observing the tailwind in the adoption of emerging technologies, we have increased our focus on healthcare, telecom, and industrial verticals.

The global healthcare scenario has changed drastically post-pandemic. What are your views on the adoption of digital technologies in the healthcare space?

​​​We are living in times where health is of primary focus for individuals and businesses alike. Undoubtedly, the pandemic has led to a sudden and wider acceleration of embracing digital healthcare solutions in our daily lives. Organizations driving these digital transformations in every industry are now trying to plug in science for better living based on real-world data and evidence. When it comes to healthcare, the paradigm shift has been witnessed with the rising interest of informed patients in self-administration, leading virtual healthcare at the forefront. However, the challenge lies in evaluating the preparedness and awareness of the nature of this new-age form of healthcare, especially the aspect of monitoring and distribution.

How do you see virtual healthcare evolving in this new paradigm? What is the role of HARMAN DTS in this space?

Historically, the evolution of virtual care has been slow over the years. The current health crisis, however, has created an urgent need to treat patients beyond hospital premises and prevent overcrowding in emergency rooms. Advancements in low latency video conferencing, complex edge computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), etc., have enabled effective and efficient data collection, increased accessibility to care through remote consultations, improved patient-physician collaborations, and enhanced patient experiences; thereby, increasing the acceptance of virtual care among patients, providers, and payers alike.

A recent study has forecasted the post-COVID 19 telehealth market to grow at 64%, as opposed to the anticipated 32% pre-COVID 19 annual growth rate. 2020 marks the beginning of unprecedented acceleration in the adoption of virtual care and is poised to revolutionize care delivery.

HARMAN DTS aims towards helping customers deliver a holistic experience to their customers – through the convergence of digital, cross channel user experience, cloud, mobility, insightful data, and internet-of-things backed by scalable underlying IT platforms. Healthcare being one of the key focus areas for us, we have made significant investments in this space.

For example, HARMAN has partnered with Roche to develop digital therapeutic technology for individuals living with autism. Roche’s digital therapeutic platform leverages HARMAN’s expertise in consumer, healthcare, audio and visual products, and immersive and individualized user experiences. The platform creates a seamless patient journey by providing tailored consumer technologies in the personalized healthcare industry.

With businesses opening up and hybrid work coming into play, what are your thoughts about the preparedness of the IT industry?

Preparedness and resilience are the two most important factors which will determine the readiness of any organization getting into hybrid work. Having said that, a lot of progressive businesses have started prepping up by embracing smarter technologies for smoother business continuity planning.

Keeping in mind the transition towards this new-normal way of life, with a central focus on employee safety we have launched HARMAN AccuAlertMe, an enterprise platform, to enable workplace safety for employees and visitors. HARMAN AccuAlertMe has been developed to provide options for automated contact tracing, up to three levels – direct, indirect, and contacts of indirect contacts. It captures details like the duration of contact, which helps assess the risk level with accuracy.

Additionally, the platform detects the exact location of contact and floor level, offering valuable information for facility management teams to plan their sanitization activities. AccualertMe positively promotes social-distancing behavior among employees and visitors by using a first-of-its-kind feature that offers real-time alerts to nudge users into following the appropriate norms. The uniqueness of the platform relies on intelligent and context-aware multi-mode Bluetooth scanning along with edge analytics algorithms for real-time social distance violations detection and notification.

Can you share some thoughts on the top trends you foresee in digital transformation in the healthcare space in the horizon of the next 5 years?

Rising healthcare costs and the increased focus on patient outcomes have led the healthcare system to increase its efforts in exploring new methods of care delivery. With a shift from volume-based to value-based care, preventive care is emerging as a key focus area for delivering quality patient outcomes. This is leading to a gradual shift in the cost paradigm of healthcare delivery.

Virtual care is fast emerging as an important tool in driving this shift and delivering on the desired outcomes. By ensuring access to care, reducing costs, and improving patient engagement, virtual care enables healthcare stakeholders to proactively reach out to patients and ensure seamless and timely healthcare services.

According to a McKinsey report, adult primary care and behavioral health showed slight declines in total visits than surgical/procedural specialties during the pandemic. This difference indicates an opportunity that virtual health technologies have for remote monitoring, which can be tackled by preliminary management and evaluation. We are progressing towards a trend of patient-controlled health, wherein the patients are holders of medical information rather than clinicians being the holders. This will lead to increased focus in investments on cost-efficient and convenient applications and platforms.

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