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Fixing up poorly IT

Posted by pakin On January - 22 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Staff at Songklanagarind Hospital claimtheir new electronic system has improved patient experience

At Songklanagarind Hospital, always packed with patients, there is now no need for the sick to spend a lot of time in an overcrowded lounge waiting for a doctor. Thanks to an in-house database and processing system, Hospital Information Systems (HIS), a trip to the healthcare provider is less time-consuming for patients and more efficient for healthcare professionals.

Founded in 1982, Songklanagarind Hospital is part of Prince of Songkla University. It is one of the major hospitals providing healthcare services to patients in the southern part of the country. As a medical centre and medical school, it also serves as a research and development educational hub for the health science community. The hospital has 853 beds, is staffed by 700 full-time physicians and can serve up to 3,500 patients every day.

The hospital’s programme is an example of a concerted IT effort to improve quality and services based on local need.

Assoc Prof Theerasan Kiriratnikorm, deputy dean for medical informatics, Songklanagarind Hospital, explained that the strength of the new system, HIS, is that it was developed in-house, meaning every application is strictly based on users’ requirements, and any adjustment can be easily made.

“At the outpatients department, patients just inform the nurse about their visits, then they are immediately registered onto the programme,” he said. “In the treatment room, the doctor works on two computer displays: one is the HIS programme used for viewing patient medical records, and the other is for viewing medical files, such as MRI or X-ray.”

The doctor logs into the HIS programme, diagnoses, treats and prescribes — all of which is digitally recorded. If the patients are allergic to any medicine, the programme will promptly notify the doctor. Information regarding the patient, such as if they are a civil servant, have health insurance or social security, will also be displayed.

Once the doctor summarises the required medical treatment, he or she can electronically make the next appointment. The system also enables the patients to acknowledge its expense.

Other programmes developed in-house include an online medicine management system which facilitates direct prescription by the doctor, automatic medicine label printing, and a link-up to medicine stock management.

IT utilisation shortens the chain of service stations. Patients will receive medicine within 15 minutes of seeing the doctor. Importantly, prescription mistakes are reduced since staff refer to computer monitors, not the doctor’s handwriting, as is the practice in many hospitals in the province. Songklanagarind Hospital embraced the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) concept — all members in the team of medical staff are equipped with mobile devices, and the hospital makes sure that they are connected to the HIS portal.

“It is important we deploy an information technology solution that enables us to give consultations and treatments from anywhere at any time,” said Assoc Prof Theerasan.

Now, Songklanagarind Hospital is 99% paperless, with the exception of getting a patient’s signature.

At present, approximately 200 physicians access HIS from their devices at any time, from anywhere. As proof of the system’s resiliency, the HIS portal is performing seamlessly, even when traffic hits a peak of 120 concurrent users. The IT department’s service level agreement (SLA) is that users should be able to access data on-premise in under five seconds.

HIS was developed in 1995 and is based on an open source platform and Microsoft XP. With Microsoft ending support for Windows XP, the team decided not to upgrade the existing Windows software, but instead looked for a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution that would work with HIS. The hospital had already implemented VMware Virtualisation and was in need of a VMware-compatible solution that would enhance the hospital’s VDI vision and mission.

“The solution had to be simple, fast to implement, and easy to use because our users are not tech-savvy,” Assoc Prof Theerasan said. “They are physicians by practice. Their goal is simple: to be able to access patient data from their own devices from anywhere and at any time, and in a simple and easy way. They need to be able to access medical records from a remote site.” The hospital then found the Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform that enables virtualisation running on Windows XP-based HIS.

Komane Ruangrit, computer specialist at Songklanagarind, said that the hospital decided to develop its own software, to invest in server hardware and to lease other endpoint hardware, including desktop PCs, notebooks, peripherals and maintenance.

Its annual IT budget is not big, with 50% allocated to staff costs, the rest being the cost of leasing desktops and equipment.

The performance of the VDI server running on Nutanix has been even greater than expected. The hospital has on-premise Wi-Fi, which can now accommodate up to 500 concurrent users. As a medical centre and school, the physicians are also involved in R&D.

They are now able to complete their research tasks and reports from home, adding to the overall positive user experience and increasing their productivity.

The hospital now plans to expand the number of VDI users to cover all business functions. Without having to buy any additional appliances, the goal is to serve up to 1,500 users through its zero-client project. The approach is to let computers work remotely by using the resources on VDI, while all the functions run on the server. This will enable the computer system to run faster as the processing has been done on the server, not on the client.

The zero-client solution will also enable the hospital to achieve significant energy consumption savings because it only requires eight watts per machine, while the desktop PCs used 30-40 watts per machine.

“Green hospitals with superior services are our ultimate goal” noted Ruangrit.

New year, new predictions

Posted by pakin On January - 12 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Apple vs Samsung, iStudio training and radar tracking of aircraft on the iPhone

It is another new year and I expect there will be many new Mac and iPad and iPhone owners. It is also prediction time again. I do not join this game, nor the one in which Apple is told what it must do. Note that after insisting on a larger iPhone (there are two now of course) some say that Cupertino must produce a smaller one, with a 4-inch screen.

Some commentators admit that the broken record of Apple dying and Samsung making great strides may be wrong. To paraphrase Steve Jobs on Microsoft — the idea that for one to win, the other must lose, is false. However, it is reported that for Xmas 2014, 51% of new activations worldwide were by Apple devices.

Sales of 60 million iPhones for the first financial quarter of 2015 are being reported, with some sites suggesting iPhone sales of 70 to 75 million “before inventory build”. Either the fanboys are breeding or others are becoming infected.

In a short while — probably around Jan 20 — Apple will announce its quarterly figures. Just before, Wall Street will make wild guesses about sales, growth and income, then will send the share prices down if Apple fails to reach their predictions. Even if Apple is in line with its own guidance: between $63.5 billion and $66.5 billion revenue. Apple does not work on market share or share price. Focus is on profit and product. That is how to measure success.

As part of the evolution and a move to a consolidated approach using iCloud for photographs on the Mac and iOS devices, it is reported that the beta version of the Photos web app is in a transition stage. Some are unable to use it, while others are finding access to be slow. Photos for the Mac is expected to be something like the iOS version. It should be released early this year.

As there will likely be several new users of Apple products, those owning their first Apple devices may need some help and local iStudio outlets are doing their part.

Although there are several sites dedicated to offering advice, it is sometimes the first steps when things go wrong for those new to the different approach that (certainly) OS X may need, but also iOS for those unfamiliar with these systems.

This weekend I saw that both the iStudio in Pinklao, a store run by Com7, and the iStudio in Siam Discovery Center (Copperwired), are offering free training sessions every day for iOS 8 and OS X.

The times are from 6pm Monday to Wednesday, from 3pm on Thursday and Friday, and from 1pm on Saturday and Sunday. Boards outside both stores show the times, with the Pinklao store also displaying some images of earlier demo sessions.

While sessions are being taught in Thai at the Siam Discovery store (and elsewhere), I am told that the personnel involved are able to communicate in English.

In the last few weeks, as well as the tragic loss of the AirAsia flight in Indonesia, a number of planes experienced problems and turned back, including a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 with landing wheel problems and a THAI Airbus A340-600 with a hydraulic problem.

In each case, information on Twitter linked to radar displays of flight paths allowed those interested to examine the last position or the flight path of the planes. Each time I tried to access these on the iPhone, however, I was offered a link to the Flightradar 24 app before the screen loaded. In the end, I weakened and bought the $3.99 app, allowing me to access live tracking of planes worldwide.

There are several ways I can use this. First there is a live map display. When this first opens, it centres on the user’s location. In my case this is Bangkok and I can see aircraft arriving and departing both Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports. It is easy to expand the map, to display a larger area or to switch to another world location. Tapping on any plane gives the user a small display of the plane, along with its flight number, departure airport and destination, and the flight progress. The path is shown on the map.

A search feature allows the user to find information by Text, Airline, Airport or nearby Flights. Of these the Airport search needed an in-app purchase. Airline and Nearby Flights showed a list of planes. Tapping any one of these showed it on the map.

An interesting feature, accessed using a binocular icon, allowed me to point the iPhone I was using towards the horizon. Basic details of any planes in the direction I was facing were shown on the screen. This did not appear to link to the map directly. Entering details in the search feature would allow the plane to be seen on the map.

Graham K. Rogers of Mahidol University’s Engineering Faculty, has OS X-flavoured web pages at www.extensions.in.th/index4.html

Smart Homes from smartphones

Posted by pakin On December - 3 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

A look at six exciting start-up apps set to bring convenience, safety and lower energy consumption in the coming year

A new innovative and free mobile app, called Wattcost, is set to turn ordinary homes into smart homes of the future, while helping save the energy consumption of households.

With the use an affordable wireless beacon that connects to an electricity meter, residents can now track and control the cost of electricity in their house via their smartphone.

Created by a start-up company from Australia, Wattcost beat out five other finalists from India, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, at the SingTel Group-Samsung Regional Mobile App Challenge staged recently in Singapore.

The six finalists were selected from a pool of over 500 start-ups comprising over 1,000 participants. The challenge aimed to identify innovative start-ups in Asia and help them accelerate their development, while improving the smartphone experience.

By simply attaching to the home’s electricity meter, the beacon analyses energy use by using advanced machine-learning algorithms and sends personalised real-time alerts to help users optimise their energy consumption and save electricity costs. The Wattcost Beacon with its unique “stick-on” electricity meter sensor is battery-operated, and designed for use with AA long-life batteries or optionally from a 5 VDC micro-B USB plug adaptor. An alert is automatically sent when it’s time to replace the batteries.

Once users download the Wattcost mobile app, from the App Store or Play Store, follow the installation instructions and complete the simple Wi-Fi set-up, they will be able to track electricity cost in real-time, Wattcost CEO and co-founder David Soutar explained.

The beacon’s low-power Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n machine-to-machine technology sends data via the internet to the company’s secure cloud-based servers for real-time analysis and sends saving alerts to a user’s smartphone.

On the smartphone screen, users can see the energy consumption of each appliance in the house, e.g. washing machine, fridge, air-conditioning and television. Users can set a target for your next power bill to control the number of savings alerts you receive to make your goal a reality.

“You can do direct comparisons of your energy use, by comparing old bills with new ones, to see how much the electricity costs today and have fun competing for the most energy smart home with your neighbourhood or friends on Facebook,” Soutar said, adding that this smart technology automatically calibrates and sends messages to help manage your home more effectively.

On its trial run, Wattcost worked with partners in Australia to run a pilot programme of 10 houses and the results were impressive.

“We are focusing on the development and pilot programme and are improving the software and whole architecture and are working very hard to ensure system accuracy as we’ve designed the product for the world and aim to save energy consumption by up to 20-30%,” said Soutar.

He noted that the company will work with three groups of partners: telecommunication operators, electricity companies and solar companies. As the winner of the challenge, Wattcost will also work with SingTel Group and Samsung to market its app to over half-a-billion mobile customers across Asia and Africa. The winning app will also enjoy prime product placement on Samsung content and services platforms.

In different countries, the model of working with partners may differ, said Soutar, noting that one of the models Wattcost will use from March is subscription, at about 100 baht per month, per house. At the moment, the application is in English, so needs to go through a localisation process to be functional in other countries. The company is therefore currently working with several partners in Thailand, China and Taiwan to manufacture the hardware.

One of the biggest challenges for now, according to Soutar, is running a Wi-Fi network on an AA battery, which is all very new technology.

The other start-up finalists from the competition include Catch It from India, a mobile app that enables users to share information, photos, video, contacts, documents and more with people around them. Jepret Story, from Indonesia, allows users to collect photos published on social networks and organise them into a special video story, helping them access and share their treasured memories with ease.

Fiuzu is a mobile app from Singapore that plans smart trips via a mobile app and on the web that plans travel activities by generating itineraries that match travellers’ time, budget and interests. Epic Life from the Philippines has been designed exclusively for Samsung smart watches. The adventure game can be played entirely from the customers’ wrists, while helping gamers stay in shape by syncing with the smart watches’ fitness data to unlock enhanced features and gameplay.

Nugrean, which translates as students, is a mobile app from a Thai team which provides a total solution for parents and teachers who might be worried about their child’s whereabouts after school. The app allows parents and teachers to supervise the safety of students as they travel back and forth between home and school via a hand-held monitoring device that comes with two applications: one for teachers to check the list of students using school transportation and the other enabling parents to monitor children in real time.

The gadget, which is attached to a student, is comprised of two tracking technologies: a wireless beacon and a cellular track and trace SIM. The team won AIS The StartUp 2014 and are currently in talks with AIS for the first prototype evaluation with some selected pilot premium schools to be operational in the first quarter of next year.

According to Pratthana Leelapanang, AIS executive vice-president of marketing for Nugrean, the app promises to be highly competitive in the marketplace because of its unique appearance and ability to offer end-to-end products with total solutions (for teachers, students and parents) and ease of being able to be replicated in other countries. AIS has become a channel for start-ups to present their ideas, as well as working together on co-development, co-marketing and co-investing.

The strength of Thailand lies in its people, said Pratthana, whom he believes are smart in both programming and design, but weak in bringing something new to market.

“We lack breakthroughs in the market and have been focusing on the local market, so it’s hard to compete in the global market,” he commented.

“Many start-ups today are at the stage of demand for funding and have to join the pitching process. The important thing is to have those who are at the seeding stage and who can reach the customers, but they have to be really new.”

CSC launches local tablet brand Wisebook

Posted by pakin On November - 26 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Computer System Connection International, a Thai IT chain store operating under the CSC brand, has unveiled the first locally branded tablet powered by the Windows operating system as part of a collaboration with Microsoft and Intel.

The CSC tablet has three models priced from 6,990 to 9,999 baht. The tablets run the Windows 8.1 OS with a quad-core Intel Atom processor.

The locally branded tablet, called Wisebook and assembled in China, is in line with the government’s policy of encouraging local firms to produce affordable tablets to provide greater alternatives to consumers, said chief executive Pichai Neranartkomol.

The collaboration by the two US-based IT giants is a response to Google’s Android-powered tablets, which are eating into Microsoft’s market share.

“We plans to spend 2 billion baht on product development and marketing activities to promote our CSC tablet over the next three quarters,” Mr Pichai said.

CSC has a distribution network of 150 outlets nationwide.

Mr Pichai expects demand for large-screen (over eight inches) tablets featuring Microsoft Office to gain momentum for both work and play.

CSC plans to export its tablets to Indochinese markets starting next year.

Wongsamat Sanpaychudayan, mobile director at CSC, said the company’s tablets retailed for more than 50% less than currently available Windows-powered tablets thanks to subsidies from Microsoft and Intel.

The target customers are teenagers and adults under 40.

CSC has appointed celebrity professor Navin “Tar” Yavapolkul as brand ambassador.

The company expects to sell as many as 400,000 tablets within nine months of their launch.

“We expect our tablet revenue to reach 2.4 million baht out of an overall 10 billion in 2015,” Mr Wongsamat said.

CSC has rolled out three tablet models under the Wisebook family, featuring 8-, 8.9- and 10.1-inch displays.

Mr Wongsamat said his company was targeting the education sector and corporate users, particularly insurance firms.

Prakash Mallya, managing director of Intel Southeast Asia, called Thailand one of the top three opportunities for Intel, along with Indonesia and Vietnam.

Jarit Sidhu, senior market analyst at researcher IDC Thailand, said Windows-powered tablets were forecast to have a mere 0.5% market share in Thailand this year.

Android and iOS-based tablets have dominated the local market, based on their lower costs.

Thailand’s tablet sales excluding the government’s One Tablet per Child project are expected to reach 2.5 million units this year, down from 3 million last year, due mainly to economic malaise and the saturated tablet market. IDC expects 2.6 million tablet sales next year.

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