A Zebra TC52ax healthcare-grade mobile computer is used to automatically verify a patient's identity via wristband barcode scan
By Will Corns | February 23, 2023

Industrial Automation Insider: The Unexpected, but Highly Effective, Uses of High-Tech and Low-Tech Automation Solutions in Healthcare

Chris Sullivan, Global Healthcare Lead for Zebra, explains how everything from robots and AI to RFID and machine vision is being used from the point of production to the point of care to improve patient experiences.

We know the pandemic changed care models. But it more significantly changed the economics of healthcare, which in turn changed the overall business model that is required to sustain a high quality of care in hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and home health settings.  

Doctors, nurses and other clinicians can’t do their jobs if they don’t have enough medical devices, medicines or beds available for patients. And many no longer want to stay in healthcare roles if they don’t have the resources they need to fully support patients – or receive the support they personally need to protect their own mental, physical and emotional health in these stressful times.  

That’s why my guest on today’s episode of Industrial Automation Insider has been speaking with healthcare administrators, clinicians, and supply chain leaders around the world. He wants to understand what it’s going to take to unburden the delivery of care and ensure that medical supplies and pharmaceuticals are delivered to the right place at the right time so that we (at Zebra) can work with partners around the world to deliver effective solutions to those managing healthcare supply chains and clinical operations and providing patient care. 

Chris Sullivan is the Global Strategy Practice Lead at Zebra and has worked tirelessly over the last several years – even before the pandemic – to understand what patients need and, subsequently, what healthcare community members need to help those patients. He also serves as a board member for numerous healthcare organizations. So, I thought it would be good to pick his brain about the macro trends occurring around the world and how they’ll likely impact healthcare’s future model. I was also curious whether we can expect to see major technology-fueled transformations occurring in healthcare in the next 12 months or more of a reversion to pre-pandemic priorities and practices. Though healthcare leaders have done a great job of embracing the EMRAM model to guide the digitalization of clinical models at a fundamental level, the utilization of more advanced technologies such as RFID, AI, machine vision and even robots at the edge of clinical operations seems to be inconsistent.  

In our 30-minute conversation, Chris sets the record straight on: 

  • How the sustained level of patient demand – and imbalance of supply and demand – has changed healthcare leaders’ attitude toward technology and, in particular, automation.  

  • The high impact of low-tech solutions, like barcode-based technology. 

  • What types of advanced technology investments are being deprioritized, accelerated or perhaps considered for the first time and why. 

  • How technologies like machine vision are actually being used in healthcare supply chains and clinical environments. (Automated data capture in hospitals?!) 

  • The operational and patient issues bubbling up in Zebra’s healthcare customer advisory board meetings with global hospital administrators, clinicians and IT leaders, along with the solutions they’re exploring.  

Chris also highlights that many healthcare providers are getting burdened with excessive administrative needs, and this is impacting the time they have available to spend directly with patients. Industry leaders see many pitfalls with this approach and are working hard to address this issue.  So, tune in now to find out what it will take for healthcare leaders to turn patients’ visions for modern care models into reality and why it will be imperative to define an edge environment roadmap this year. 


Healthcare, Podcast, Automation, Best Practices, Innovative Ideas,
Will Corns
Will Corns

William Corns is the Senior North American Sales Manager for Fixed Industrial Scanning & Machine Vision at Zebra Technologies, leading a team of industrial automation experts and driving key conversations with customers about the value of industrial automation in today's challenging business environment. William joined Zebra in 2021 after selling his machine vision company that he founded in 2003. With nearly two decades of machine vision experience, William brings with him knowledge of complex vision systems, artificial intelligence, 3D scanning, robotics and integrated industrial automation workflows. Now he leads our team of Fixed Industrial Scanner & Machine Vision experts for Zebra. 

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