Saudi Arabia Builds A Healthier Tomorrow With The IBM Cloud
“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.”
- Gautama Buddha (563-483 BC), spiritual leader and founder of Buddhism.
Cloud computing can bestow many gifts on businesses – cost efficiencies, performance optimization, mobility – but when it bestows the gift of a healthier future, that is the greatest gift of all. And this is what has led Saudi Arabia to embrace IBM’s cloud-based Public Health Solution.
This is not the first time I’m writing about the significant synchronicities between cloud computing and healthcare. From two years back when I wrote about the use of cloud computing to analyze humongous amounts of genetic data to more recently, where I enumerated several free information assets for the healthcare CIO, healthcare on the clouds has featured regularly in my writings.
However, this is the first time that a national government has been so welcoming of this technology. Today, the Saudi Ministry of Health announced the successful implementation of IBM’s Public Health Solution for Disease Management in Jeddah, Mekkah, Taif and Qunfudah. This will help public health professionals reduce the spread of communicable disease by improving communications and providing relevant information on demand.
While the implementation was formally announced only today, the IBM SmartCloud-based system has been up and running for the last seven months. During this short time, it has been used by more than 1,200 employees at the Ministry of Health coordinate 180,000-plus immunizations and 1,000-plus investigations. With this system, the entire healthcare system in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can function as a seamless whole, yet still be accessible from anywhere.
Here’s an example. With the ability to record and forecast immunizations, the technology can also be used to track the exact location of vaccines, down to which refrigerator in each hospital, to ensure enough supply is available. In the event of an outbreak of a serious communicable disease, the system will alert public health officials who will plan and direct actions to protect citizens.
Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister for Public Health, Dr. Ziad Memish said, “IBM’s innovative cloud-based healthcare technology serves as the foundation of the Ministry’s e-health scheme and infectious disease control program. It will help us improve public health in the Kingdom by keeping people healthier, enhancing vaccination coverage, identifying health issues and taking preventive measures to combat infectious diseases.”
It’s heartening to see the developing world leveraging the best in technology for the welfare of the general population. While the financial impact of cloud computing on businesses cannot be understated, we cannot forget that adage we have all heard some time in our lives – “Health is Wealth.” And even here, cloud computing has a major role to play.
By Sourya Biswas