We speak to Dirk Wagener, General Manager of People Productivity and Health at Stone Three, about the company’s provision of technological solutions for the healthcare industry and beyond.
“Although being an electronic engineer by nature, I have always had a passion for healthcare, the industry, and the potential impact of technology on human health,” begins Dirk Wagener, General Manager of People Productivity and Health at Stone Three.
Wagener began his career building software products and from there grew into a strategic, impact focused leadership role helping to shape Stone Three’s company culture and innovation engine.
“Our first healthcare projects were in the public sector, focusing on point-of-care medical devices and health data interoperability,” he reflects. “Since then, we expanded into artificial intelligence (AI) augmented diagnostics, telemedicine, and more recently, various industrial health services and productivity solutions.”
For Wagener, the South African healthcare industry is at present incredibly exciting territory brimming with potential. This is not only due to the rapid growth in population but also the dawn of Industry 4.0 and the accompanying impact on industry and the productivity of employees. Within the global healthcare space, South Africa can be considered as rather unique. According to Wagener, understanding the social dynamics of the country can allow occupational health to adapt through its strategic implementation to have a large-scale impact across operations. With the help of technology, the ability to deliver high quality healthcare to the people that need it most has become much more feasible, resulting in a more productive and happier/healthier workforce.
“Africa is a booming continent; I consider it a privilege to be part of such a vibrant culture and economy,” he tells us. “Creating technology and services that not only matter to organisations but are able to make an actual difference is a big driving factor behind our success.
“Our partners globally all face different problems based on location and/or infrastructure. In today’s ‘digitally transformed’ world, what can we do for our clients to ensure they remain productive even when the world throws pandemic-sized curveballs? Technology can change the game if being utilised in the correct way.”
In a nutshell, Stone Three leverages technology to solve problems that matter to people and their organisations. Whether it is the use of smart sensors in the mining sector that can enhance productivity, AI augmentation through existing CCTV camera networks to ensure worker safety and significantly reduce risk, through to its unique telemedicine offerings allowing companies to look after the health of their employees at remote sites. All of this is combined into a centralised monitoring and diagnostics (M&D) service allowing companies to keep their finger on the pulse of the health and safety of their employees and allowing employers to gain insights into the productivity of their workforce.
“We currently offer our products globally, from North America all the way to Australia and many countries in-between,” Wagener explains. “By specialising across industrial health to operational productivity in the mining sector, our employees become domain experts and understand the issues our client face and the best way to adapt technology and services in order to solve them.”
And Wagener stands as a key executive member of the company’s operations within South Africa’s healthcare and heavy industrial sectors, ensuring that Stone Three delivers the latest and greatest technological solutions for the ever growing and promising space.
Stone Three’s services and offerings are unique due to the nature of the sectors into which they are integrated, as Wagener explains.
“As an example, consider a mining executive working on-the-go and having access to constant plant operational data to make informed decisions,” he elaborates. “This could be data from overloaded conveyor belts causing constant shutdowns and red flags, or the ability to see a physical safety risk due to environmental factors or un-checked equipment left behind on a site. They would even be able to view ongoing employee health trends from within the industrial working facility. Now this executive can make real-time decisions through risk-based alerting or adapt their respective workflows via informed AI analytics. Our offerings differentiate themselves from others in the industry as each client we work with is unique, and our solutions are adapted accordingly.”
These customised and unique solutions are found throughout Stone Three’s offerings, and on top of this, the company works alongside external organisations, such as Intercare, to achieve its mission of solutions delivery in Africa and on continents beyond.
“This is a key project and partnership for us here at Stone Three,” Wagener affirms. “In the past, most of our telehealth solutions have been deployed in the US mainly due to the demand and slow pace in which telehealth has been adopted in South Africa, due to local regulations. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic demand quickly intensified and through our continued success in North America we formed a strategic partnership with Intercare to deliver on their telehealth needs. This has allowed us to assist in making change through the adoption of telemedicine right here in South Africa in partnership with Intercare having conducted over 12,000 telehealth consultations since the onset of the pandemic.”
On top of this, Stone Three has multiple long-term relationships with multinational mining companies. Over the years, Stone Three has been able to understand some of the mining challenges faced in the sector, and utilising its extensive knowledge, expertise and solutions, boosted the operational productivity of many corporations.
“In the area of metallurgy, our smart sensors have shown significant impact and results in terms of process improvement resulting in increased operational productivity,” Wagener tells us. “Improving employee health and safety in the heavy industry working environment remains a complex challenge. Critical controls must be monitored 24/7, trends need to be identified and reported, and certain detections require real-time alerts, a task impossible to accomplish with human oversight alone. Our video safety analytics uses AI to automatically identify health and safety related behaviours, infringements, potentially harmful events, and objects. The solution integrates into an existing CCTV camera infrastructure for constant monitoring, automated detections, and enhanced safety awareness across the entire operation. It is fair to say that we have become experts in improving the performance of our clients’ critical controls, improving their safety culture, reducing lost time injuries and saving lives. In partnership with our mining clients, we are working towards a healthier, more productive workforce.”
SERVING THE GLOBE
Stone Three is always ready to adapt and diversify to fit the industries in which it can make a difference, and the company prides itself on its positive global wellbeing footprint. One of its products, TeleSensi®, is unique in its ability to transmit live heart and lung sounds while performing a medical examination using a variety of different digital stethoscopes.
“This technology can be a game changer when attempting to offer specialist care to rural areas of the world,” Wagener tells us. “Imagine a travelling nurse seeing to a patient in a rural area of the Eastern Cape (South Africa) or a paramedic onboard a mining ship, handling a trauma case – the nurse or paramedic can now “live-stream” the patient’s heart auscultation to a cardiologist anywhere in the world to offer the best care possible. These are the types of game-changing technologies and services we build at Stone Three.
“Companies and society in general are paying more attention to mental health, an especially relevant topic during the current pandemic, through telehealth adoption this can easily be cost-contained, and companies have the ease of knowing their employees are getting the best care possible delivered at scale.”
Thanks to the expertise and dedication of Stone Three’s employees and the unwavering support of its customers, the company has evolved over the years to become one of South Africa’s leading Industry 4.0 firms, designing and developing services that increase operational productivity, and improve people’s health, safety and overall happiness.
Stone Three’s manifesto sums up the heart, drive and mission of the company:
“We use technology for good.
We use it to innovate, improve and empower.
To create better working conditions. To make people safer, healthier and happier.
To save companies time and money. And to help them become more successful.
To do this, we keep researching, designing and developing.
We keep looking for ways to make technology extraordinary; to turn possibility into reality and potential into practical, to embrace the new industrial revolution, and to move us all forward.
We do this constantly and endlessly, as we have for 20 years.
We believe in the future.
And we create The Future of Work – Now.”