Introduction To Smart Hospitals, And How They Change The Healthcare Sector As We Know It

A recent survey revealed that 95% of patients aged 18-34 will switch healthcare providers if their digital experience is not up to par.

While doctors buckle under heavy workloads and patients expect a seamless digital experience, health organizations are looking to deploy technology to remedy the situation.

As a result, medical facilities benefit from medical AI services to free up doctors’ time, improve facility management, and engage patients.

Keep reading this article to discover the definition of smart hospitals, which technology they utilize, how they can empower you, and how to move towards adopting smart hospital concept at your healthcare facility.

What Constitutes A Smart Hospital?

Smart hospitals are healthcare facilities that use technology, data, and IoT devices to improve patient satisfaction and streamline clinical processes.

They often deploy AI and data analytics to optimize internal flow and enhance communication.

Intelligent healthcare clinics aspire to provide a seamless experience for employees, visitors, and patients, rather than just concentrating on diagnosis and treatments.

Rundown Of Technologies Powering Smart Hospitals

In the ideal world, intelligent clinics do not operate alone. They are linked to an ecosystem that contains patients’ houses, fitness centers, etc. with all these units delivering health management and maintenance programs.

Smart hospitals rely on the following technology:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) can spot the earlier stages of different diseases, like cancer. Moreover, AI is an important step on the way towards intelligent automation. 
  • Augmented reality (AR) can support healthcare students and employees during their training, help patients cope with pain and mental disorders.
  • Big data analytics can help oversee population health, detect and treat disorders, and support scientists in conducting medical research.
  • Cloud platforms are necessary for aggregating and analyzing huge datasets in a smart hospital ecosystem.
  • The Internet of Bodies (IoB) enables caregivers to monitor their patients remotely. This technology also form the basis for biometric-based authentication. 

Smart Vs. Digital In The Smart Hospital Context

Digitalization alone does not automatically render a hospital “smart.” While setting up robotic process automation (RPA) or other digitalization efforts is a considerable step in the right direction towards being intelligent, it isn’t the end result.

For instance, transitioning from paper-based records to EHRs is a correct move, but it’s not enough for a hospital to become “intelligent.” 

When transitioning to a smart hospital, it’s important to have a reliable strategy for data management and use analytics to fully exploit digitalized systems and the captured data.

How Smart Hospitals Transform The Medical Sector

Recent research projects the global smart hospital market to amount to $147.5 billion by 2029.

Let’s see how this tech can transform medical facilities.

Improving Patient Engagement

Smart hospitals assist patients in navigating their enormous facilities, avoiding getting lost, or wandering into locations with infectious diseases.

For instance, the UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital relies on technology for guiding visitors towards parking lots and assisting them in finding empty spaces.

Visitors can also use this tool to alert the caregivers that they’ve arrived. 

In addition to helping visitors, these healthcare organizations rely on technology to keep inpatients safe and entertained.

For instance, Changi General Hospital partnered with the Singapore University of Technology and Design to develop a mobile app for seniors suffering from dementia.

This software stimulates and engages them, enabling them to receive therapy even when they are alone in their rooms.

Facilitating Asset Tracking And Replenishment

Nurses waste a significant amount of time looking for equipment, with research indicating approximately 40 hours are spent on this task in one month.

And in 16% of instances, they are unable to find the desired item. One option to resolve this problem is using smart hospital technology, like RFID tags, QR codes, and Bluetooth-based iBeacons, to track people and devices, and present their placement on dashboards for everyone to see.

Cleveland Clinic London uses Navenio technology for asset tracking to find the best suited healthcare providers for patients within the clinic.

The location sensors activate as soon as caregivers start their shift, and will stream data in real time.

This enables doctors to help patients located nearby instead of having to run across the hospital.

Reducing Equipment Downtime Through Predictive Maintenance

Smart hospitals rely on analyzing data to spot any potential device failure and have the opportunity to fix it preemptively, instead of waiting till the device malfunctions.

For instance, New York’s Saratoga Hospital utilizes Philips’ electronic devices to track different risks affiliated with medical hardware devices.

Enabling Facility And People Management

A hospital is a comprehensive structure consisting of employees, visitors, patients, and equipment.

Smart hospital technology offers the possibility of automatically monitoring the facility and the human assets working within its walls.

1.) People Management.

With caregivers, inpatients, and guests, it’s hard to control that everyone abides by the rules.

Luckily, smart hospital tech comes to the rescue. Singapore General Hospital partnered with the New Zealand’s Blue Mirror to produce an AI-powered digital mirror, which can monitor that all visitors wear protective equipment according to the protocol when entering isolation zones.

2.) Building Management

The Chinese BOE Hefei Digital Hospital implemented an IoT-based hospital control system.

Arrival of a new patient triggers the building’s management hub, turning on the heating, and adjusting other utilities based on the given arrival time.

This helps to streamline and optimize the hospital’s operations, increasing patient satisfaction.

Enhancing Medical Diagnosis And Treatment

In technology-enabled smart hospitals, doctors use software applications to diagnose patients faster and detect any early manifestation of medical disorders before the patients’ condition worsens.

One such smart hospital example is Changi General Hospital (CGH). The CGH team built an AI predictive analytics tool that can estimate pneumonia patients’ risk of becoming critically ill before their situation actually escalates.

How To Get Started With Implementing A Smart Hospital?

After learning how technology can influence your organization, here are five steps that you can follow to initiate your facility’s transitioning into a smart hospital:

1.) Formalize Your Vision

Use information gained from focus groups or employee interviews to identify any specific needs and pain points of the facility.

Then rely on this information to determine which technological solutions can help improve the situation.

2.) Assess The Technology You Have In House

Analyze existing legacy systems, including digital applications and infrastructure, like lighting and heating.

You can do this while partnering with your tech vendor to formalize any gaps in the system for further reference.

3.) Tackle Data Interoperability Issues

It is worth investing in a commonly used health data interoperability standard, if you haven’t already done this.

4.) Consider Whether Your Devices Can Be Integrated

If you are just getting started with your digitalization journey, select one medical device vendor to ensure your devices can be integrated.

Another option would be using a vendor-agnostic medical IoT solutions.

5.) Enhance your system’s cybersecurity.

Adding more connected devices can open your system to cybersecurity risks if not done properly.

Hence, it’s a good idea to involve a cyber protection engineer when planning and acquiring smart hospital technology.

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