We recently met with Olivier Posty (Country Manager, NTT Ltd. Luxembourg) and Michael Mossal (Senior Director Digital Transformation NTT Ltd. Luxembourg and CTO Office Europe,) to discuss the past 6 months and notably the digital transformation of the healthcare sector. Through several projects and initiatives, NTT Luxembourg was able to contribute to the fight against the spread of Covid-19 and still aims at facilitating the daily operations of doctors, thanks to the use of innovative technologies.

From Japan to Luxembourg, most countries, economies and companies all over the world have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. “When the lockdown was announced in mid-March in Luxembourg, our first focus was to support our clients and to help them move forward, notably going from “on-site” to remote so that they could continue their commercial activities,” first explains Oliver Posty. His teams also focused on making sure the NTT employees could work in a safe environment, whether it is from home or its head office in Luxembourg. He adds: “just as most of our clients, we went 95% remote”.

When the first wave ended, in mid-May, the NTT teams were eager to keep supporting their clients. As highlighted by the Country Manager, “we reflected on how we could bring more value to them and eventually to the services they provide. In the current context, helping our clients rethink their processes and turn to digital is more important than ever. In other words, how can digital bring more value to their own end-customers?”

A fruitful collaboration to enable large-scale testing of Covid-19 in Luxembourg

“The Covid-19 pandemic was not the start of our healthcare journey. Smart healthcare is actually globally one of NTT’s strategic pillars.

If we look at our own history, NTT’s roots are found in a Japanese public governmental organisation with the mission to advance technology and to better life of people, society and the planet – closely tied to UN sustainable goals.” comments Michael Mossal. Through innovative healthcare solutions, the aim is to take away the burden – or as much as possible – from doctors and hospitals and use technology to the benefit of the patient.

“Covid-19 actually accelerated the transformation of the sector and the willingness to improve applications that were already used, such as the sharing of patients’ records via smartphones, etc. But it also allowed us to go further, notably in the development of the large-scale testing project,” explains the Digital Transformation Lead. Developed in collaboration with Laboratoires Réunis, this project was initiated by the government of Luxembourg with the goal to perform as many tests as possible. Determining who is sick in order to isolate patients and therefore control the infection was also part of the initial plan. “The government set an objective of 20,000 tests per day to keep the economy going and avoid a second lockdown which would have had disastrous consequences”, underlines Michael Mossal. On the technical side, the main challenge was to build this project fully secure and highly scalable in a very short period of time. Laboratoires Réunis, in charge of testing, was therefore able to process and analyze data in the public cloud while patient information is kept securely in their private cloud environment. “To do so, we selected AWS, that brought an immense value to this project, and indirectly all citizens will benefit from it,” underlines Olivier Posty.

Compared to the overall situation in Europe and especially in neighboring countries, the Covid-19 pandemic is now stable, at a low rate in Luxembourg. “This strategy proved to be efficient: Luxembourg succeeded in flattening the curve,” comment the digital experts. NTT Ltd Luxembourg and Laboratoires Réunis have recently entered the second phase of the project, which focuses notably on LuxAirport: passengers arriving in Luxembourg will automatically receive a QR Code, go through a testing process, with the aim to detect positive tests quickly and initiate the isolation. “The situation had us work even faster than usual, and thanks to today’s technologies – available in the public cloud – we were able to drastically reduce time-to-market and build the solution rapidly and scale. Moreover, such solutions could easily be exported to other countries,” add the two experts. In the coming months, NTT ltd will focus on duplicating this concept to offer it to other industries: these scale-up solutions, with a short time-to-market will bring unprecedented and new capabilities to address the clients’ challenges.

Leveraging 5G networks to “bring doctors to patients”

More than a year ago, the Government of Luxembourg, or more specifically the SMC, launched a call for projects around the topic of 5G, and its potential uses. As explained by Michael Mossal, “5G will transform IT. It’s not only about performance as it will also allow the creation of new and secure services, it can isolate traffic, etc.” NTT Ltd Luxembourg filed several initiatives and one of them aims at leveraging the power of 5G to “bring doctors to patients”, in the current context of the “consumerization of healthcare”. The international group has therefore collaborated with HRS – Hôpitaux Robert Schuman – in order to help the medical institution cope with digital transformation. The first outcome is a digital health platform and a well-defined data strategy. “By collecting and understanding patients’ data, the hospital and doctors will be provided with meaningful insights about the patient journey and therefore make informed decisions,” comments the Digital Transformation Lead, as patients today sometimes know more about their own health than doctors. The NTT-HRS project will allow health professionals to use data generated by consumer devices like an Apple Watch and medical devices and store them in a secure way, via 5G, in a dedicated data lake. “These anonymous pieces of information will then be available and used for many remote cases, as the healthcare records could support the decisions and actions taken by doctors, by medical emergency professionals, and more,” highlight the experts.

The other way around, it will be possible to use Augmented Reality (a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view) to combine the advice of the doctor remotely with the real situation of the patient. An example is the first treatment in the ambulance while leveraging real-time data from the patient record to diagnose allergies or chronical disease – or in the case of a stoke a pre-recorded storyboard to support the chance of saving life in a totally new experience.  This is what is referenced as “bring doctors to patients”. What is available today on iPads, is tomorrow supported by Glasses. The partners for this project are Microsoft Azure and Apple.

Moreover, when developing 4G/5G projects, NTT ltd does not rely on local telecommunications providers. IOT, Mobile Workplace or Cellular WAN connect projects can be end to end delivered from the endpoint over the connectivity to the backend layer. In fact, the Japanese group rebranded globally as NTT Ltd one year ago, bringing all of its brands and subsidiaries under one international umbrella. One of the group’s companies specializes in telecommunications: Transatel is therefore used to power the current and future 5G projects led by NTT. “Going from Dimension Data Luxembourg to NTT ltd Luxembourg, benefiting from all the knowledge and expertise of the group, led to the acceleration of projects, even with the Covid-19 crisis,” adds Oliver Posty.

In the upcoming months, the digital experts within NTT will keep on working on e-health initiatives. “Our latest project, developed with the LIST – Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, HRS – Hôpitaux Robert Schuman and eSante – aims at creating a virtual and multidimensional medical catalogue. We are designing a Graph Database which can deal with the complexity of such a catalogue allowing the maintenance and easy access to all these different sets of data”, highlights Michael Mossal. According to the expert, technologies like NLP – Natural Language Processing –, 3D modeling (rotate / pinch to zoom) and Artificial Intelligence, could assist the doctors in picking the right treatment and therefore improve the health of patients.

The health sector has dramatically transformed over the past months, notably through the use of digital tools and innovative technologies. The Covid-19 actually accelerated a transformation that had already begun a few years ago, pushed notably by the government of Luxembourg. Data, often labeled as the oil of the 2st century, AI and 5G/mobile – seen as some of the most disruptive technologies ever and promising to redefine all industries – are the key drivers of such deep and essential transformations. These technologies now allow health professionals to better take care of their patients and take better-informed decisions. They will also bring more value to the services provided by the medical sector, benefiting both doctors and patients. NTT Ltd Luxembourg, which can rely on its local and international experts, but also on the scope of its parent company, aims at always bringing more innovation to the healthcare sector and boost the overall digital transformation of Luxembourg.

Alexandre Keilmann

Photo: NTT Luxembourg
Publié le 29 septembre 2020