As Asia-Pacific healthcare advisor for Oracle, Peter Williams has a keen interest in the junction between health, education and the research sector.


Here he explains the multinational tech company’s involvement with OUTBREAK…

Oracle’s mission is about using data to get better insights so, OUTBREAK was a natural fit from a technology point of view. Probably the two most significant things we’ve been collaborating on are the unique multi-cloud architecture and helping develop papers around the ethical use of information, and how OUTBREAK is going to manage data governance.

Q: What do you see as the potential for OUTBREAK?

There is huge potential. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is clearly one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. If anything’s been evidenced by the COVID outbreak, we have to get ahead of the curve on this stuff and OUTBREAK is a great way to do that. We now have the technical capability to deal with the scale and complexity, which we probably couldn’t have done 20 years ago. But there are challenges with data – the first is actually assembling it, putting it together in a way so that you can apply things like artificial intelligence to draw out inferences and drive new knowledge.

Q: What sort of impact will OUTBREAK have?

If you look at the current pandemic experience, there’s an impact across health but there’s an impact across the whole community and we shouldn’t underestimate that. I think the shift in the emphasis in healthcare is to more preventative, population health type measures.

Q: Why does this project interest you?

I’ve been involved in the technology side of the business for thirty years now and I guess one of my motivations is, I’ve long seen the potential for this. The reality is that healthcare is probably up to a decade behind many other industries in taking the value of the innovation that’s available from OUTBREAK.

The biggest issue in healthcare is interoperability. Banks and telcos solved that decades ago – you can walk into any ATM in the world and put in your Australian card and get out your money – but we still have hospitals sending faxes. Healthcare still has a lot of paper-based records; it’s got a long way to go but part of the problem has been, historically, it hasn’t been good at demonstrating the value of technology, which is easier in industries that are more commercial.

Peter Williams is a keen advocate for digital healthcare and health informatics. He is a Director and Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Digital Health and co-chairs the Industry Advisory Groups of both the Centre for Innovation in Digital Health and the Australian Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare.

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