May 17, 2020

SQream Technologies' Big Data database will revolutionize healthcare

5 min
SQream Technologies’ Big Data database will revolutionize healthcare .jpg
Imagine visiting your local medical clinic for a blood test and having a super-fast computer immediately run an analysis on your DNA sample to determin...

Imagine visiting your local medical clinic for a blood test and having a super-fast computer immediately run an analysis on your DNA sample to determine your ailment and offer a possible treatment. Or, being able to download a mobile application to your smart phone which can track your health information and have it delivered directly to your doctor before your visit. These scenarios and other revolutionary advances in healthcare are all being made possible due to the implementation of Big Data solutions.

Big Data is taking the healthcare industry by storm, and now more than ever before access to Big Data analytics are becoming a top-priority for healthcare providers. With the rising cost of healthcare and emerging new clinical trends, the healthcare sector has started implementing Big Data solutions to provide better treatment decisions.Big Data has also become an important topic in today’s healthcare industry due to the massive amounts of data being stored in multiple medical records and sources. And with so much data available, technological innovators are jumping at the opportunity to build applications aimed at easing the information sharing process.

SQream Technologiesis an advancing startup which has created a unique Big Data technology with huge potential for success within the healthcare sector. The company was founded in 2010 by Ami Gal (CEO) and Kostya Varakin (CTO). Mr. Gal had been wanting to use GPUs (graphic processing units) to quickly crank through loads of data since 1997, an idea he first applied to accelerate call center apps. It worked, but not fast enough. Later on, Mr. Gal met Kostya Varakin who was using GPUs to accelerate SQL analytics. The two joined forces and eventually created SQream Technologies, a company focused on building the fastest, most revolutionary Big Data analytics database ever.

By creating a database which runs on GPUs combined with CPU technology, Big Data can be processed faster for less-hassle at a much more affordable rate compared to other Big Data platforms. Very little hardware is also required with SQream’s advanced software, making the SQream database a great solution for smaller healthcare providers who have limited space and are unable to accommodate a room full of servers. Less hardware also means lower costs - SQream’s database falls into the thousand dollar range rather than millions. With all of these advantages in mind, it’s certain that SQream’s robust database will bring big benefits to Big Data seekers in the healthcare field.

“Our Big Data platform will provide a number of benefits to healthcare patients and companies due to the huge demand for faster data analytics within the healthcare industry,” mentions Ori Netzer, VP of Product Management for SQream Technologies. Mr. Netzer believes this is the case due to the influx of data being generated from new connected devices, sensors, DNA sequencing and research which is being conducted within the medical field. “A lot of data is being generated and data analysis can be very beneficial to the healthcare market. Yet these solutions must be practical and accessible by the healthcare providers. Take the IBM Watson for example - this is a high-end solution which doesn’t really fit all the hospitals because of the size and cost. If you can minimize the hardware, however, this technology can be used in any hospital - something revolutionary which we are making possible with our Big Data database. At SQream, we enable healthcare providers to achieve more analytics in a faster way which can be used everywhere, by everyone,” states Mr. Netzer.

Making Big Data accessible to multiple healthcare providers and patients is crucial for the future of the medical industry. A recent reportpublished by Frost & Sullivan projects that over half of U.S. hospitals will be using advanced analytics software by 2016, a huge increase compared to the 10% today. New health-information exchanges are also being utilized by hospitals. According to a reportdrafted by McKinsey&Company, “- around 45% of U.S. hospitals are now either participating in local or regional health-information exchanges, or are planning to do so in the near future.” SQream Technologies is well aware of this growing trend, which is why creating blazingly-fast analytics in a cost-effective manner are such important benefits of their technology. “We reduce the costs by far for research involving new drugs and medical methods, helping bring insights to new treatment methods. We also have the capabilities to store and analyze far more data on far less hardware, allowing large data sets coming from sensors and monitoring systems to be stored in a much more effective way, resulting in faster insights at a reduced cost,” notes Mr. Gal.

And with the ever increasing rates of data being generated within the healthcare sector, the faster the analytics the better. Most of the time physicians and healthcare providers do not have the time to spend waiting for results. They need immediate answers, especially when it involves medical decisions. By implementing a super-fast Big Data database like SQreams’, these officials and companies can gain accurate and quick analytics which can potentially save lives.

One goal SQream Technologies hopes to achieve through the implementation of their database in the medical arena is to help doctors and other officials make more informed decisions based on Big Data insights. For instance, a Big Data strategy such as SQreams’ could assist physicians detect early stage illnesses which require immediate medical treatment. Clinical data based directly on patient results is the only way to confirm the accuracy of particular illnesses.   

By embracing Big Data technology, the healthcare industry demonstrates the willingness for growth and advancement. The benefits that Big Data can bring to healthcare can transform this global industry into a data-driven field capable of accurate new discoveries and rapid changes. SQream Technologies is certainly proud to take part in this process by providing more analytic capabilities to healthcare providers of all shapes and sizes. Faster, more cost-effective and hassle-free analytics made possible by SQreams’ revolutionary database will surely advance the Big Data process within the healthcare sector. 

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Jun 19, 2021

Driving sustainability in medical device production

George I’ons
5 min
George I’ons, Head of Product Strategy and Insights at Owen Mumford Pharmaceutical Services on how technology is driving sustainability 

Environmental protection and stewardship are rapidly rising to the top of the corporate agenda and medical device businesses are no exception. The healthcare sectors of the United States, Australia, Canada, and England combined emit an estimated 748 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year, an output greater than the carbon emissions of all but six nations worldwide. In order to curb this situation various European standards have been introduced. 

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE); Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS); Registration, Evaluation, and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) and the Energy Using Products (EuP) regulations have all significantly altered manufacturing processes, specific labelling, compliance with disposal restrictions, and creation of instructions for end-of-life management and recycling.

At the moment many medical devices are currently exempt from these regulations but several directives, including RoHS and WEEE, are in the process of being reviewed and could be applicable in future. This is especially relevant for devices that are ‘connected’ and have a digital monitoring component which then brings them under the regulatory purview of authorities that govern devices with electronic components.

Safety, Usability and Sustainability

While medical device manufacturers have been working to respond to increasing demand for environmental sustainability from the market, they also have to contend with a key element of their mission: to ensure safety and usability to healthcare workers and patients. Parenteral and other invasive devices are strictly regulated to help reduce the risk of Healthcare Acquired Infection which typically runs as high as 5% and 8% in most developed countries, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. As a result, they typically contain disposable single-use plastic elements.

At the same time, many hospitals and purchasing organisations have started to recognise that sustainable purchasing practices play a pivotal role in reducing costs over time. Many GPOs have appointed and empowered Senior Directors of Environmentally Preferred Sourcing who are successfully implementing the sustainable purchasing business case. In addition global pharmaceutical companies are increasingly creating senior positions with sustainability objectives as key to the role.

Medical device disposal is a particularly burning issue; generally carried out through incineration in the EU, it typically releases nitrous oxide, as well as known carcinogens including polychlorinated biphenyls, furans and dioxins. Some of the strategies trialled by manufacturers to reduce waste matter destined to incineration include sterilisation and reprocessing.

Sterilisation, however, falls short on the environmental front, and may consume more energy and produce more emissions than incineration itself. In the United States for example, 50% of all sterile medical devices are sterilised with ethylene oxide but since this method releases harmful emissions, the US Food and Drug Administration is now encouraging the development of new methods or technologies. Many other established sterilisation methods use glutaraldehyde that is not only harmful to the environment but also tends to be regulated by strict usage and disposal rules such as COSSH guidelines.

Focus on Recycling

The outlook on recycling is changing significantly thanks to new research and technologies enabling, for example, monomer extraction. Recycled polymers can be broken down to their constituent monomers promoting an almost limitless recyclability of some polymers. In addition to this, Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), renewable polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) can be recycled several times without losing critical properties.

Reducing the impact of packaging can also significantly reduce the materials that need to be dealt with through either waste or recycling. Packaging manufacturers are decreasing packaging volume by favouring sealed trays instead of pouches, laser-etching instructions directly on to the tray where regulation permits it, or reducing the number of components required overall. In addition to this, for recycling plans to be successful it important to have a full understanding of the practices surrounding device use and to establish, where possible,  closed loop recycling systems that recover the waste materials from hospitals or patients and bring them back into the recycling process.

Sustainable Manufacturing: Technology and Research

Greater employment of fast degrading plastics or material from other sources is a key strategy to reduce harmful pollutants both at production and disposal stage. Bio-based materials can in fact offset the carbon emitted during processing as the monomer source grows, and a growing range of sources for bio based monomers -such as wood pulp or sugar cane- is available. However, when assessing the most suitable material for a part, the entire lifecycle of the product needs to be considered. For example: bio-degradable polymers can contaminate a recycling stream and emit methane when incinerated.

The use of environmentally friendly materials should also be supported by an increase in clean renewable energy sources. Lower energy consumption means fewer carbon emissions but also financial savings, making this an appealing measure for manufacturers. New technologies are proving a major gamechanger on this front, helping manufacturers marry their environmental stewardship with cost savings and efficiency.  3D printing, for example, can help develop optimum product moulds more quickly, refining production parameters to minimise raw materials volumes and maximising output productivity.

Similarly, ‘digital twin’ production software uses inline sensors to create a virtual, real-time mirror of the production environment to enable inline refinements. The objective is to achieve “zero defect”, waste-free manufacturing. In addition to this, LEAN manufacturing methodologies are already helping to optimise inventory management and reduce overproduction. 

Sustainability by Design

It is increasingly clear that effective environmental sustainability in the medical device sector cannot exist without a full view of the product life cycle from concept development, material selection, design and engineering to manufacturing, packaging, transportation, sales, use, and end-of-life disposal. These evaluations are typically made for factors such as manufacturing efficiency, time to market, or safety and regulatory compliance, packaging and transportation costs, but should be extended to energy efficiency and environmental impact by means such as life cycle analysis.  

In addition to this, with devices rapidly becoming more digitally connected, developers need to be aware that the costs of disposable electronics would simply not be viable, or indeed acceptable in the light of electronics disposal regulations. Design therefore should focus on creating a simple, repeatable interface between the two component sections so as not to impair the functionality or efficacy. As reducing waste and harmful emissions continues to exert businesses and governments globally, the medical devices industry cannot stand by. The environmental but also commercial implications of inaction are too serious and the array of solutions now available is exciting and diverse.

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