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Smarter Healthcare

To build a smarter system, healthcare solutions need to be instrumented, interconnected and intelligent.

The future of healthcare

IBM Health Industry Lead Annette Hicks, examines smarter healthcare where the electronic health record is central to a fully instrumented, interconnected system infused with predictive analytics.

Hear Perry Bartlett, Director of the Queensland Brain Institute, share his insights on Australia’s role in cutting edge healthcare, including the institute’s research into the relationship of the brain to everything from spinal injury to mental illness.

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Anita Malhotra

Anita Malhotra

Industry Leadership - Business Development Specialist

Meet the experts

Annette Hicks,
Smarter Health Expert for IBM Australia and New Zealand

  • About Annette
  • Connect with Annette

Diagnosis for a smarter planet (997KB) 22 opportunities for a smarter planet (967KB) Technology alone can't cure what ails us. But it can help those who treat our illnesses, heal our injuries, and find new ways to battle diseases do it even better. It can also help healthy individuals make smarter choices about their healthcare solutions.


Australia's health needs (AU) are changing. In 1950, the life expectancy of a 50 year old man was 73 years; today it's 81 years. Good news for everyone, but it comes at a price. People aged between 65 and 74 years represent twenty times the cost of 15–24 year-olds upon Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and five times the cost for public hospitals.

As population demographics continue to change, so too must our healthcare solutions. Using tools like electronic medical records, wireless computing devices and health support networks, healthcare can be smarter.

In fact, much of smarter healthcare is not focused on the next big breakthrough in medical research. Smarter healthcare solutions start with the individual. Take the Medical Home model, for example. Primary care physicians act as "coaches," leading a team that manages a patient's wellness, preventive and chronic care needs. The doctor spends more time with each person, is available via e-mail and phone for consultation, offers expanded hours and coordinates care across the individual's entire care team.

But what else might we expect from a smarter healthcare system?

Watch the video

A series of conversations for a smarter planet

Information isn't stranded on islands

Smarter healthcare is interconnected. Like Spain's Servicio Extremeño de Salud (SES), where each location had its own patient records system. The organisation took steps to create a global platform, connecting almost 13,000 professionals with a scheduling system that manages nine million outpatient visits a year.

In Australia, Melbourne Health has driven improved patient care when it collaborated with IBM to launch BioGrid Australia, a research initiative that enables clinical staff to access, analyse and cross reference data from numerous research programs from various institutions. Armed with this abundance of data, researchers can now compare their findings across multiple studies to more quickly analyse patterns and better study more complex treatment interactions.

Physicians spend time with patients, not paperwork

Geisinger Health System serves more than two million Pennsylvanians. The enterprise was one of the first healthcare organisations in the US to implement an electronic health record (EHR). This massive storehouse of clinical information, procedure and research enables extensive, diverse medical information to be used as the basis for medical research, treatments and life-saving breakthroughs.

Expertise needs no passport

Smarter healthcare doesn't stop at geographic borders. For example, the island of Tristan da Cunha. It's located more than 1,665 miles west of Cape Town, South Africa, and is accessible only by a week-long boat trip. But that doesn't mean its residents can't have access to high-tech medical care. "Project Tristan" combines medical equipment, satellite communications and remotely supported electronic health record (EHR) technology, allowing medical experts from anywhere in the world to assist island clinicians in their daily practices with medical diagnoses and emergency support.

Unified Communication between staff
Samarinda Lodge, a non-for-profit aged-care facility in Australia, worked with IBM to implement a hands-free, voice-based communication solution that significantly improved communication between staff members and residents. The organisation cut labor costs by ten percent and can now respond to patient requests more quickly.