Internet of Awesome Things

Ep. 4: Health & Wellness

August 14, 2019 Season 1 Episode 4
Internet of Awesome Things
Ep. 4: Health & Wellness
Chapters
Internet of Awesome Things
Ep. 4: Health & Wellness
Aug 14, 2019 Season 1 Episode 4
Russell Brown
Some of the most exciting opportunities for IoT are in healthcare. Russell Brown talks to Spark’s Digital Health Lead Dr Will Reedy to find out more, and Pete Loveridge explains how IoT is working for St John Ambulance.
Show Notes Transcript

Some of the most exciting opportunities for IoT are in healthcare. Like most things related to IoT, it’s a little bit of the old meeting a whole lot of new. For instance, medical alarms can now do a lot more than just call for help.

Spark’s Digital Health Lead Dr Will Reedy explains how the focus is moving from illness and disease to managing health and wellness. He talks us through a NZ-based project wherein sensors are checking movement, temperature, dampness and other markers. It's all to keep an eye on the wellbeing of 40 elderly residents of Waikato. Will himself wears a ring that continuously monitors his sleep and vital signs, giving data that helps him know when he needs to take it easy.

This sort of data is not only useful at a personal and individual level, but it also can be collected and analysed across a population to improve resources and outcomes for everyone.

IoT has been a game-changer for St John Ambulance, one of the most enthusiastic early adopters. In this episode, Customer Director Pete Loveridge explains how St John is implementing IoT tech in the front line of healthcare.



Russell Brown:
0:00
Kia ora koutou. I'm Russell Brown and this is the Internet of Awesome Things podcast brought to you by Spark. So far in this series we've focussed mostly on the possibilities of the Internet of Things for business. But some of the most fascinating IoT opportunities lie in a sector that's not about production and distribution but keeping us well: healthcare. Like most things in IoT, it's a little bit of the old and a whole lot of the new. You're probably familiar with the idea of medical alarms. Perhaps you or someone in your family has used one. We'll look at how alarms have changed and gone mobile, and we'll look at the way the Internet of Things is shaking up other areas of healthcare, sometimes in ways that highlight the need to update our laws and regulations. Someone whose job it is to stay across all of it is Spark's Digital Health Lead Dr Will Reedy and he's with me now.
Russell Brown:
0:53
Kia ora, Will, welcome. Now I guess we should start with the question, where does IoT fit in the healthcare landscape? It seems to me that the use cases are actually very broad.
Dr Will Reedy:
1:04
Yeah, they are, Russell. And I think that's one of the exciting opportunities in health particularly here in New Zealand. When you think about the health system currently there's about six and a half thousand providers of healthcare to you and me, whether that's your hospital doctors, your GPs, your community pharmacist or your ... I guess you physiotherapists and things like that. And I guess there's an element of thinking about health being a disease, an illness piece. So you've got a diagnosis and you need some intervention, but there's a massive movement globally (but increasingly in New Zealand) around managing health and wellness. And there's a big application from from our perspective as consumers to leverage IoT to manage a health and wellness before we need to touch the health system with a disease or illness. So it's, it's, it has huge implications. It's just making sure that, I guess, the solutions that a lot of people are thinking about actually improve your health outcomes for people like you and me. And, and, essentially these growing demands in health for evidence that IoT-type solutions make it better for us in terms of our health.
Russell Brown:
2:13
So, so the implication there is that a lot of the potential actually lies outside what we think of the healthcare system. It's outside clinics and hospitals.
Dr Will Reedy:
2:21
Yeah, I think so. I think there's, there's a lot of opportunities if I think about inefficiencies of our larger hospital systems here in New Zealand, in terms of IoT here's some applications from a service and administrative point of view. So I really mean Asset Tracking, effectively, and we'll talk about that, I'm sure. And then the other side is yeah, in the community and there's a general move to try and provide care outside of large hospital facilities. It's cheaper but it's also better in terms of patient outcomes. And I think the other side of that is, is there's definitely consumer plays from an IoT perspective. It's not just about the providers providing as a service as well.
Russell Brown:
2:58
Let's start with wellness and in particular, vulnerable people in the community. Because it does seem that, that their wellbeing starts out there in the community, doesn't it?
Dr Will Reedy:
3:07
Yes, it's interesting. I think just to take it up a few levels, ultimately your health and wellness is determined by what we call the social determinants of health. So it's things about what you share with providers of the health system. But it's your education levels, it's your housing, it's your diet, it's your exercise, it's your genetics interestingly as well, and we'll talk a little bit about that in the context of IoT today as well. So there's a real piece that says if you, if you just let the providers use IoT solutions, you wouldn't get all the data that ultimately determines how well you or I function from a health and wellness perspective. So there is a whole opportunity in New Zealand for consumers to leverage IoT solutions to maintain their health and wellness and increasingly you'll find providers focussed in the community like GPs and community nursing – for example, in aged care as well with their ageing population – that they'll focus on IoT solutions that ultimately provide care in the community to prevent ... you know, patients are ending up in the hospital system essentially.
Russell Brown:
4:10
This is also about what's going on in people's homes, whether their homes themselves are healthy.
Dr Will Reedy:
4:14
Yeah it is, and I think that's where the "social determinants of health" piece comes in. There's an interesting project that we are involved in from a Spark perspective in the Waikato. It's essentially looking at detecting frailty and older people's homes and essentially there's since has been put in 40 homes to look for activity ... what I call activities of daily living. So, people sleeping when they should sleep, are they up and about during the day, are lights going on, is it damp in terms of humidity, and what's the temperature of the house? And this particular company we're working with with the DHB down there, Waikato DHB, there's a professor in Older Persons' Services who believes with those types of sensors and data being collected in a, in a proactive way, you can apply AI and machine learning. In an algorithm to detect that a patient is actually deteriorating and instead of that patient ... ultimately I guess that the classic scenario is becoming frail, falling over in the kitchen, breaking their hip and ending up in the health system. Trying to detect those types of declines earlier and then having a community nurse or community doctor go see that particular patient or family in the home and intervene earlier in terms of why things are taking I guess a slight downturn in terms of outcomes.
Russell Brown:
5:32
So it's sort of predictive in that sense.
Dr Will Reedy:
5:34
Yeah and it's a really interesting one because from an IoT perspective there's a little bit in the health sector around almost an app for that type mentality which is, "Hey, here's a cool solution." But like I said before, does it drive improved outcomes? And so with that particular research project, there's a provider piece to it. So maybe DHBs who've had a patient in hospital recently, discharged them home, want to improve their management in the four or six weeks after they've got home to prevent a readmission (because that's a big hospital cost across our health system) is to have that sort of service in place. There's a bit around larger aged care providers thinking about it. So the Ryman Healthcares, the MetLife Cares as well, but the other interesting thing with IoT solutions today is the price point dropped a lot over the last few years. So there's an element of this particular solution I just talked about being a consumer play and I guess the best way to describe it is, my parents are in their 70s. They don't live with me. They're getting increasingly frail. Both retired a couple of years ago. The price point for this potential solution is about 30 dollars a month and you know, from my point of view that kind of peace of mind about making sure they're okay in 30 dollars a month on top of a mobile phone plan or a broadband plan is something that, you know, I'd think about. And having an app to kind of keep me aware of how they're going, if they're going downhill a bit then I can pop 'round and check in on them. So we're just trying to work out whether that solution has benefits and then it's just thinking about who would, y'know, provide that service and I guess there's a number of different players across these in the New Zealand health sector who could do that.
Russell Brown:
7:07
Yeah, it's an interesting one. Who will actually run this?
Dr Will Reedy:
7:09
Yeah, that's right and so that's part of the research project. This professor of – I'm going to use the big word, gerontology, or older persons – is really keen to go, "Hey, here's a solution that can make a big difference in people recovering or being maintained in their own homes, which is the best place to be. They don't need to be in an aged care environment, they don't need to be back in a hospital environment. Will this make a material difference in terms of of the health outcomes of those particular patients?" So he's, he's doing all the research to see if it does make a difference and that really helps with, I guess, making those types of solutions real across New Zealand in particular.
Russell Brown:
7:46
Now one thing I hear businesspeople say a lot is that IoT ultimately is all about the data. Does, does that apply in the healthcare field as well?
Dr Will Reedy:
7:56
Yeah, it does and it comes a little bit back to that "social determinants of health" piece that I talked about before. So it's just gathering some data. I guess some of these IoT solutions are very specific. So that aged care, one I talked about before and frailty as data is just coming off the sensors and, and the data's been interpreted to decide whether a particular patient is becoming frail from a wider health and wellness perspective or a disease and illness perspective. That data will be like an electronic medical record and then help with some decision making about what should happen for you or me as a, as a patient. So it is ultimately about data and that "social determinants of health" piece that I've talked about before and I think the real power that's coming is, is, is taking that data and using it for AI/machine learning. I think there's some real exciting opportunities with that moving forward in terms of providing good quality care to people across New Zealand.
Russell Brown:
8:53
Yeah, I read a column you wrote last year about treating a patient who was, was able to basically tell you a lot by opening up her Apple HealthKit and that this was all information that she'd entered in some cases or they'd been captured, but she controlled it, she was able to show it to you. We haven't really got that in New Zealand, have we?
Dr Will Reedy:
9:10
No, no, it's quite interesting. Yeah, so it was an experience for me on my clinical day at Middlemore where a patient from the US had basically downloaded her record from her local hospital doctor and her GP effectively in the US and then augmented that record with her health wearable data, and nreded stuff around her allergies and things like that herself. And she unfortunately ended up in the emergency department and I was asking her about her history and things like that and she was basically able to show it to me, in this case on her iPhone and wanted to share that information into our systems here in New Zealand. Unfortunately she couldn't. And it's just, I guess, an information sharing challenge that we have here in New Zealand. But it just highlighted that, you know ... I would traditionally as a doctor call them patients, I'll call them consumers of healthcare because I think that's where things are going. We're taking ownership of their record, their health and wellness and using multiple ways of gathering the data to manage their health and wellness. And interestingly we had the global head of healthcare from Apple down a couple of weeks ago talking to, to us at Spark but also to some of our consumers and in some of the businesses we provide Spark services to, about this particular solution and how we could use it here in New Zealand. We've got a, a few health providers quite interested in providing that capability.
Russell Brown:
10:28
I'm getting the impression you think we're off the pace on this stuff?
Dr Will Reedy:
10:31
Yes, I think generally speaking we're off the, off the pace but I think it's a little bit around ... There's an opportunity in that too. I think one of the things that's, that's interesting about healthcare ... I said before I think it's six and a half or seven thousand providers here in New Zealand on the provider side. It's ultimately a complex system and it's very fragmented. So it's really hard to drive digital technologies into New Zealand health sector. But from a consumer point of view, there's a really good opportunity to disrupt with IoT solutions and healthcare, and appeal to I guess the consumer/customer end of a health experience. So I guess what I'm really saying is there's a real opportunity, given we are behind, to look at what others have done and if you got ... if you like, navigate to the right thing to do for New Zealand.
Russell Brown:
11:20
That's kind of interesting actually, though, that it could be healthcare consumers who push the pace on this, because they have these solutions.
Dr Will Reedy:
11:27
Yes, I think so and I think, look there's ... They'll be some of my colleagues in healthcare who, who, who don't think that's going to happen. But there's really good evidence in other parts of the world that that is happening. And I think one of the ways I think about IoT in particular in healthcare is I think, from a health provider perspective it's going to help transform their business. So you've got data that you otherwise wouldn't have to help deliver better services. But from a consumer perspective it's going to be disruptive because they'll have a digital experience, except some parts of the New Zealand health sector won't and that'll drive some disruption I believe.
Russell Brown:
12:05
Do you think there's also a personal and psychological shift here? Because I had a blood pressure monitor at home for a while. I hated using it. It made me anxious and stressed. It was almost like there were things I didn't want to know. And yet we're all going to be wearing ... well, not all of us but a lot of us are gonna be wearing these devices that tell us these things.
Dr Will Reedy:
12:24
Yeah, I think it's it's really interesting, I think coming back to the behavioural aspect, right, so there's, there's an element of ... if you think about IoT in isolation, the technology's here, right? It's just the adoption and making sure it improves health outcomes and I think that's the areas in healthcare in New Zealand that we need to look at. And I think it's also coming down to the type of patient you are. I'm going to use a word called personas, and so some people are interested in managing the health and wellness or managing a chronic disease like diabetes really proactively and some aren't. So some of these technologies will work, I guess depending on the type of person that you are and how serious you are about managing your health and wellness, and then managing I guess a chronic disease like diabetes. So yeah, I think it's ... there's a little bit of horses for courses but I guess the opportunity's there for people to leverage these technologies.
Russell Brown:
13:14
And I guess there are, there are also, I mean ... In some other jurisdictions I think this is already the case where your health insurer takes an interest in, in the data that you're producing. Are we gonna reach a point where health insurance companies can demand that you share your wearables' data because it's shareable?
Dr Will Reedy:
13:32
Yeah, look, it's a really interesting discussion, and I think outside of my role at Spark and being a clinician I, I lead up a group in the Ministry of Health around thinking about a national electronic health record, and it's an interesting debate because ultimately your record should be a combination of the data that you put in yourself and then the various providers of health in New Zealand health system are collecting that data and you have access to it and they have access to your data. The challenge in New Zealand at the moment is a Health Information Privacy Act is about 25 years old. So it's a little bit behind the times in terms of, of where digital technologies are going, but ultimately what we've worked through with consumers in New Zealand is they want to access their data from providers, they want to add their own data to that record, but they want to be able to control who gets shared with. And so for example their data being used for what I would define as commercial purposes; the example you've given us is the health insurance industry (but interestingly pharmaceutical companies are also interested in that data) is they're not really ready to go there. So there's a privacy legislation piece to work through, but actually from a consumer perspective they're not willing to do that. So that's I guess the traditional answer to that type of question. Interestingly, in countries like the US and Canada at the moment there are disruptive plays where patients can collect their data and then choose to share it with insurance companies and what they get in return, they are effectively selling the data for research and things like that, is they get reduced insurance premiums or they get a discount off the next you know orthopaedic surgeon type consult that they have, so ... So there is some disruption coming in. But ultimately if I think 20 years into the future there's going to be patients and any caregivers because some people, you know, aren't digitally literate. Controlling how that access to that recorder is shared. So it's gonna be interesting time to watch what happens in that space. But ultimately if you're trying to be in control of your health and wellness or the diseases you may have, then you should be in control of how your data is shared.
Russell Brown:
15:37
It strikes me there are also some sort of broader applications. I was talking to someone a little while ago about connected asthma inhalers that deliver data that could be matched against data on air quality from sensors that were there in a smart city setting so you can actually learn quite a lot from this stuff, can't you?
Dr Will Reedy:
15:57
You can and that's another example of, of when I use the word at the start of this discussion, "social determinants of health", four words. Essentially that's the other interesting area here in New Zealand is getting data from, from ... I guess in that particular case, councils looking at air quality, connecting it to outbreaks of asthma, i.e. people turning up in emergency departments, and then looking at that particular patient and going, "Hey, they've got asthma, are they actually compliant with the inhalers that they've gotten?" You're able to match that data together. And it's another interesting one in terms of the inhaler as well is, compliance with medications is a big challenge in the health sector so often as clinicians we prescribe a certain treatment and we never quite know whether it's picked up. There is an increase in connections between we give the patient a prescription and they actually get dispensed it by the local community pharmacy. But we still don't know in that loop whether they've taken the medications, and asthma is a big challenge here in New Zealand. And so having the ability to know that the asthma inhaler is being used in terms of compliance is quite good to help with treatment moving forward, because at the moment is a little bit blind in that space. You know you've prescribed it, you know they've picked up the inhaler, but not sure if they're actually using it.
Russell Brown:
17:05
Now you mentioned "council". There's another angle on council there, isn't there? Are you involved with a ... There's a food safety project?
Dr Will Reedy:
17:12
Yeah, look, and it's it's a broader part of healthcare here in New Zealand and many people know about our public health services and essentially they're looking for things like outbreaks of commonly, most recently measles I guess, and the flu (flu season at the moment) but also around food poisoning outbreaks, commonly salmonella as an example. And so there's been some work between the Public Health Service and the council to put thermometers into the fridges of of restaurants and monitoring for those temperatures and triggering that, "Hey, you're not keeping food refrigerated as you should." I guess on the other end of the spectrum it's, there's been an outbreak of some salmonella food poisoning and it's a family who's been to this restaurant, "Hey, is there any evidence that, you know, the fridge wasn't maintained at the right temperature?" So those types of connections are being trialled actually within Auckland at the moment.
Russell Brown:
18:03
Now I can't let you go without talking about your ring. This is a special ring you've got on your hand, isn't it?
Dr Will Reedy:
18:10
Yeah it is, and it's quite an interesting piece. I think that's the other really exciting thing around IoT is you start taking IoT and combining it with other digital technologies like analytics, AI/machine learning, big data. So I'm wearing a ring called the Aura ring. It's a, it's a health wearable, effectively. And it does everything the Apple Watch does. And I actually have an Apple Watch and it collects ... it gets more detailed, accurate data in my experience. And I use that every day as part of an overall personalised precision-driven health and wellness plan. And so a little company, start-up here in Auckland called Edison Health. Essentially they run a programme where they take your bloods, do your blood normal blood tests, biomarkers and they do your genomic screen as well and then they come back and essentially based on that, have a precision-driven plan to maintain your health and wellness and you have what they call the Edison protocol. And as part of that you get given this ring as a health wearable to just monitor how you're progressing with that, so ... And then the data that's on my ring, there's an app that I can share with Edison clinic who have doctors who specialise in personalised medicine but every day I get an update on how I've slept, my heart rate, my heart rate variability and then I get AI, machine driven data insights into, "Am I ready for work today? No, I didn't really sleep that well last night." "Am I my exercising enough?" Those types of things. So interestingly there's four of us within the Spark exec team involved with us at the moment and it's a really good example of IoT health wearables combined with other digital technologies to give me an experience around my health and wellness, so mobile phone application, IoT data, mapping my genome and then still get face-to-face piece with a precision medicine specialist, effectively.
Russell Brown:
20:10
So have you actually had a situation where you phoned in and said, "Look, I shouldn't come in today, data says no."
Dr Will Reedy:
20:18
Actually it's the other way around that's, the data is not looking good and I feed it and they say, "Hey, we need to come and have a talk to you about a few things." And so it's quite, quite an interesting piece, so actually the other thing that they do which is quite interesting is they do a 3D body scan every month just to see some of the changes in terms of adopting the programme. And then there's a whole cognitive–behavioural piece to it as well which they ... They're interested in how all those things come together to help you perform better at work or being more clear-minded and those types of things. So yeah, basically, they've the ability to access the data every day and if there's any issue, they'll let me know. That hasn't happened at the moment, it's been more of a month's view of the data and then having a check-up and then planning what we do for the next month and I guess the best way I can describe that is, by having this data, we started off with an overall health and wellness plan and every month we were just able to do effectively continuous quality improvement based on that discrete data, particularly from from the ring that I'm wearing, to look at what we're gonna focus on for the next month to keep ... Because health and wellness is not a, it's not a destination. It's a journey and there's always improvement. So the data helps with that.
Russell Brown:
21:25
Well, you look pretty fit and well to me but I mean, it, has it made you feel differently about yourself?
Dr Will Reedy:
21:30
Yeah it has. I mean, I think, the other really interesting thing which I'll share with you is, my family has a really strong history of ischaemic heart disease. My grandparents on my father's side died in their early 50s of heart attacks. My father is in his 70s now but he had heart attacks in his 50s so genetically there's a strong risk of me having a heart attack in the middle of my 50s and essentially from doing this precision medicine testing ... I have some genetics that express in a certain way that drive up my risk of having cardiovascular disease. So it's not that I've got high cholesterol or high blood pressure or those things, it actually looks at my genetics and what I need to do is sleep more, exercise more, drink less coffee, interestingly. And that'll drive down the expression of that gene, which will reduce my risk of having cardiovascular disease and so essentially the ring helps make sure that I'm exercising, that I'm sleeping enough and then that's fed into my overall risk profile. And what's actually happened, I've been on the programme for about three months is my risk profile has dropped about 30%.
Russell Brown:
22:33
So that's a result, that's interesting psychologically. I think, "Yeah, I'm doing the right thing."
Dr Will Reedy:
22:36
Yeah, and I think the ring, in a funny sort of way, different to the Apple Watch that I'm wearing today, just seems to make me more compliant, if you like, coming back to their behavioural discussion we had before with, with the programme itself. And I guess in my mind, knowing that data's through my own control is being shared with Edison Health to inform how I'm progressing is quite useful I think, and it's a good way of getting the right behaviours. I'm not saying it's perfect all the time. They only expect you to, if you like, do your best around health and wellness 80 percent of the time. It's all kind of that moderation piece, but massive improvements cognitive–behaviourally, risk-wise and definitely feeling healthy and well at the moment.
Russell Brown:
23:20
Oh, I'm glad to hear it. Thank you very much, Will, that was fascinating.
Dr Will Reedy:
23:23
Yeah, no problems. Thank you.
Russell Brown:
23:26
Dr Will Reedy there. I mentioned medical alarms before. Now someone who knows a lot about those, because he's responsible for a nationwide network of them, is St John Ambulance Customer Director Pete Loveridge.
Russell Brown:
23:39
Well, welcome Pete. Thanks for joining us.
Pete Loveridge:
23:41
Hi Russell.
Russell Brown:
23:42
Let's start with the alarms because as I noted that's something that people are familiar with the concept of, but alarms have changed as well, haven't they?
Pete Loveridge:
23:50
They're kind of changing over time. In New Zealand we're lucky at St John to have about 45,000 people who've got a medical alarm within their house. And as part of that, it gives them the security and reduces their vulnerability if they have a health issue or an event within the house, that they can contact us directly and then we can respond accordingly. But currently the medical alarms are actually limited to the house. And if you leave the house or go down to the supermarket, they, they, they don't work. So we've been working on new solutions to try to ensure that people, when they leave the house, can, can feel safe and be able to contact us when they need when they need to.
Russell Brown:
24:32
That seems to me like it's both liberating and offers a feeling of security for people.
Pete Loveridge:
24:36
Yeah, it does, and look, people think, "Oh well, why don't they just use their mobile phone, or do something like that?" But actually these medical alarms are on them all the time. They wear a pendant and effectively these pendants last up to about two years, so ... And if the power goes out, it still works. And we've had numerous occasions when, when people have been able to get hold of us when others can't. And that's the, that's the beauty about it. And with new solutions and new technology we're trying to take that beyond the gate, as we call it, and ensure that if people are taking their dog for a walk or they are outside or they're doing something that they can still get hold of us.
Russell Brown:
25:11
And this is all happening in the midst of a three-year digital transformation at St John. What are you doing and why?
Pete Loveridge:
25:17
As you might know, a lot of companies are going through this digital transformation programme. We're, we're, we're one of those. And in reality it's about us trying to modernise a lot of the things that we do behind the scenes and a good example is we've got supporter scheme membership which we have about 150,000 people who who are supporter scheme members. And we can only at the moment post them a letter in order to ask them to renew. We don't send any email. So we're trying to go through this process of trying to get more efficient ways of communicating with customers but also deliver better innovation to our customers at the same time. I liken digital transformation to going through an episode of Grand Designs. You start at the beginning of a process with a budget, a timeline and a vision, and then things start going, getting interesting. Budget extends, the timeline extends, you fire a couple of builders, you have to dig deeper to build the house, you have a, you have ... The weather intervenes but hopefully at the end of the process, you're sitting in a, sitting inside your new house with the vision that you wanted, having a glass of wine and enjoying what you managed to go on and what you managed to accomplish in just as much as the journey itself.
Russell Brown:
26:34
And your marriage survives.
Pete Loveridge:
26:36
And your marriage survives! Correct.
Russell Brown:
26:37
So how far along this journey are you?
Pete Loveridge:
26:39
We're about two years into it and we had to dig very deep, so to speak. We've built that kind of infrastructure and now we're starting to deliver the services. And our first cab off of the block was our First Aid training. We train about 90,000 people a year in First Aid training, and that requires a booking system. And we've gone through digitising that and then we're gonna add other products and other features to that, to that platform.
Russell Brown:
27:02
What role does the Internet of Things play in this vision?
Pete Loveridge:
27:06
Yeah, Internet of Things is something that we are very hot on at the moment and a lot of other other companies are as well. I don't call it Internet of Things. I call it the internet of people's things. And the reason we call it that is it's about for me people not just the things that you can connect them to, and at St John we are all about the people. The technology is only an enabler for us to deliver better services and provide better care for people. So for me it's about "internet of people's things" and we are at the beginning of our journey, we know kind of where we want to go to and we want to be able to a connect people with lots of products, but we need a kind of centralised place to be able to do that.
Russell Brown:
27:50
How far off are you from, say, having connected devices in the back of ambulances, or is that happening already?
Pete Loveridge:
27:55
Yeah. Ambulances are ... actually ambulances are like their own little separate mobile terminal wandering around now and the, the, the paramedics on the front line now have a digitalised tablet, they can put all the information on there, it's stored, and then in the future that, the information's gonna be how it is kind of now; it can be sent directly to a hospital before they arrive so the hospital can get information before the patient arrives, and in the future we hope that that information can be passed directly back to the doctor or the GP so the doctor comes in the next. Meaning that they can understand who's been in hospital and what's happened to their patient. So we're on that programme as well.
Russell Brown:
28:31
Which brings us to data. And you know, doing the series I keep coming up to this: IoT, it's all about the data. I presume you feel the same way.
Pete Loveridge:
28:40
Um, yes and no data. Tie data to me is, is data. It's only data. It depends on what you want to do with that data and data hides insights. And you have to draw those out. And that's the difficult part because that's the part that requires you to ask the right questions just as much as storing the data.
Pete Loveridge:
29:00
Yes and no. Data ... Data to me is, is data. It's only data. It depends on what you want to do that data and data hides insights and you have to draw those out. And that's the difficult part because that's the part that requires you to ask the right questions just as much as storing the data. So yes, data's important but it's what you do with that data. We get what we call a ... People going about negative-positive, positive-negative, positive-positive and negative-negatives, but it's about a lot of data that's actually just noise and you have to get through that to get the real, the real gems of information that allow you to deliver a better service for your customers.
Russell Brown:
29:19
So how do you go about that?
Pete Loveridge:
29:21
You gotta store it, and you to get some really smart bods to have a look at it. But we've, we've had people looking at data and I can't find anything you've got to ask the right question and then get the right people to be able to look at, look at that. And we get a lot of data we don't use so... But also at the same time we've in the ambulance side which we've created a lot of pathways through better data. Data only gives you one point though, because then you have to go out and you have to convince others that what you've got is valuable in order to get them to change a clinic, a clinical pathway or something like that.
Russell Brown:
29:57
That's an interesting point, is that you actually need people you work with. You need partners to be along on this journey as well.
Pete Loveridge:
30:03
Yeah. And look, you know, I know we're sitting opposite each other but Spark have been a very valuable partner to us in terms of, in terms of our journey. And if anything actually, Spark have been encouraging us and pushing us to keep going and keep exploring and that's all part of that, all part of that. And you've also got to have people who understand the customer because you got to put the customer in the middle. I think a lot of companies seem to put themselves in the middle and you have to put them in the middle. And we're talking in my case about 85-year-old mainly women who are lonely sitting in a house you have to you have to ask yourself, "Are they going to be able to talk to an Alexa? Are they going to be able to to look at a smartwatch?" Some of them can't, some of them don't want to, some of them don't have any email access. So you have to think about solutions for them. And data only forms one part of that journey. At the end of it you have to look at and go what human touch, what human thing can we bring that gives them comfort and security?
Russell Brown:
31:01
Yeah, it's a pretty clear point you keep coming back to here: This isn't just a tech roll-out.
Pete Loveridge:
31:05
Correct. Correct. I can have lines and lines of suppliers of technology products at my door any time. That's not because I'm arrogant or anything, it's because they want to. I'm more worried about what that technology can bring to my customer and what it can do but also what can we wrap around that. So that's important.
Russell Brown:
31:26
So there's still at least a third of the journey to go.
Pete Loveridge:
31:30
Yes.
Russell Brown:
31:31
What does that hold? What are you hoping to achieve in the next year or two?
Pete Loveridge:
31:35
A bit more grey hair, probably. Requires us to make careful investments but it also requires us to make sure that we plan in a journey, we've done a proof of concept with our IoT platform to make sure that actually what we're trying to do kinda works. That's really funny, because you do a proof of concept and then the technical guys actually unpack all the proof of concept – they kind of destroy it and you restart again, which I kinda find weird, but what we're now doing is planning out effectively how we're gonna do that. We're selecting our partners and then we're gona, then we're gonna start building. We hope to have our IoT platform for our loan work product up about, about a year and then we're going to rapidly extend that out to our medical alarm customers and various others.
Russell Brown:
32:14
I sort of get the impression that the the end result is not going to be something whizz-bang that people look at and go, "Wow," it's just going to be something that works better.
Pete Loveridge:
32:22
Yeah. And we're a bit like that. Look, you don't really need St John Ambulance until you really, really, really need us. And then we have to work and we have to work 100 percent of the time and we do, on most occasions, do a really good job at helping people. And that, and that for me is important, that we, I'd rather have the technology, everything working perfectly when you most need us rather than, "Ahh, it's a little bit dodgy." So we'd rather get that right then rapidly go to market get wrong.
Russell Brown:
32:54
Well, I think it kind of defines mission-critical. Pete Loveridge. Best of luck on your journey to the internet of people things.
Pete Loveridge:
33:00
Thank you very much. Pleasure. Thanks Russell.
Russell Brown:
33:03
Thanks Pete. Thanks also to Dr Will Reedy, to all the people who helped get this podcast made, to Gareth Thomas for our theme tune. And to you for joining us. You can subscribe for more of the Internet of Awesome Things at spark.co.nz/iotpodcast, or wherever you get your podcasts if you like what you've heard. Please rate and subscribe to us. We're also keen to hear your thoughts and questions about what we're doing and you can get hold of us via iot@spark.co.nz. We'll be back soon with more on the wild and interesting world of the Internet of Things. I'm Russell Brown and I'm looking forward to catching up then because you and I, we have 20 billion things to talk about.
Russell Brown:
33:43
Hello, Russell here. One more thing: if you like this podcast, you might be a starter for my other podcast, "Actually Interesting", which is all about AI or artificial intelligence. It's brought to you by Microsoft and you can find it in the "Future" section of The Spinoff website or wherever you found this one. Go look.
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