The future of healthcare: 7 examples of how smart hospitals are changing the game
In the age of digitalisation, hospitals are more frequently turning to intelligent solutions to make operations more efficient and patient care more accessible. What exactly makes a hospital “smart”? In this blog, we will explore the features that comprise a smart hospital and examine the capabilities needed to make a medical facility truly stand out.
There are numerous benefits to a smart hospital, but here we discuss seven of the most important ones:
- Telemedicine and virtual care
- Wearable technologies
- Automating hospital workflows with IoT
- Digitalisation as driver for better patient safety
- Better digital communication
- Predictive analysis with AI
- A more sustainable future
Dive into each benefit and explore how they contribute to the journey of becoming a smart hospital.
1. Telemedicine and virtual care
Telemedicine is the use of technology, such as video conferencing and remote monitoring devices, to provide medical care and consultation remotely. Smart hospitals utilise telemedicine to provide patients with remote access to medical specialists and to enable remote monitoring of patients' health. This can improve access to care, especially in rural or underserved areas, and can also reduce the need for patients to travel to see a healthcare provider in person.
Telemedicine also facilitates communication and coordination among healthcare providers, promoting seamless transitions of care, and reducing the likelihood of medical errors. Smart hospitals that utilise telemedicine and virtual care technologies are better equipped to provide high-quality and patient-centred care across the continuum of care.
Telemedicine and virtual care technologies help provide patients with remote access to medical specialists and enable remote monitoring of their health, which can help to reduce the need for hospital readmissions and improve the management of chronic conditions. It can even help reduce the spread of infectious diseases and can facilitate the continuity of care for patients with chronic conditions.
Another form of telemedicine and virtual care that is much newer is telesurgery. Telesurgery, also known as remote surgery or robotic surgery, is a surgical procedure that is performed by a surgeon who is not physically present in the same location as the patient. Instead, the surgeon operates the surgical instruments through a robotic system that is controlled by a computer. This technology has revolutionised the field of surgery by allowing surgeons to perform minimally invasive procedures on patients located in different parts of the world.
The use of robotic systems can also improve the quality of surgical care by providing surgeons with greater precision and accuracy than traditional surgical instruments. This reduces the risk of complications and improves patient outcome. Furthermore, telesurgery can provide surgeons with real-time feedback, allowing them to adjust their techniques and improve their performance. Overall, telemedicine is considered to be the future of healthcare as it improves the quality of care and increases the efficiency of the healthcare system.
2. Wearable technologies
Wearables and patient monitoring
Wearable technologies, such as smartwatches, fitness trackers, and smart clothing, are becoming increasingly important in the context of smart hospitals. These devices can be used to collect a variety of health-related data, including heart rate, sleep patterns, and activity levels, which can then be analysed to improve patient care.
One of the most important applications of wearable technologies in smart hospitals is smart patient monitoring. Smart patient monitoring consists of wearable devices that can be used to monitor vital signs and other health-related data in real-time, allowing healthcare providers to detect changes in a patient's condition before they become critical. This can be especially useful for patients with chronic conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, who require regular monitoring.
Rehabilitation and patient involvement
Another important application of wearable technologies is within rehabilitation. Wearable devices can be used to track a patient's progress during physical therapy, allowing healthcare providers to adjust treatment plans as needed, which leads to better outcomes and faster recovery times.
Wearable technologies can also be used to improve patient engagement and education. By providing patients with real-time feedback on their health and wellness, wearable devices can empower them to make more informed decisions about their care.
In summary, wearable technologies play an increasingly important role in smart hospitals, as they can be used for remote monitoring, rehabilitation, and patient engagement, which can lead to better patient outcomes and more efficient healthcare delivery.
3. Automating hospital workflows with IoT
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, and other objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data. In smart hospitals, IoT can be used to automate various medical tasks, improving the efficiency and quality of healthcare delivery.
One important application of IoT in smart hospitals is in medical devices. IoT-enabled medical devices, such as blood glucose meters and heart monitors, can collect and transmit data to healthcare providers in real-time. This allows for the early detection of changes in a patient's condition and can lead to faster, more accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Automate monitoring and tracking
IoT can also be used to automate the process of monitoring vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels, for patients in critical care units. This allows for the early detection of changes in a patient’s condition and can lead to faster, more accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Finally, IoT can be utilised in smart hospitals for asset management. IoT-enabled devices can be used to track the location, usage, and maintenance of medical equipment, allowing healthcare providers to optimise their usage and reduce costs.
In summary, IoT has great potential to automate various medical tasks in smart hospitals by providing real-time data, improving the efficiency and quality of healthcare delivery, optimising the usage of medical equipment, and monitoring vital signs.
4. Digitalisation as driver for better patient safety
As the world of healthcare technology advances, so do the options for making hospitals safer places. By utilising smart technology in various aspects of hospital care, from patient tracking to automated medication dispensing, medical facilities can realise a significant improvement in patient safety.
Patient tracking systems and automated medication dispensers
One of the ways that smart hospitals improve safety is by using patient tracking systems. By always knowing the location of patients, hospital staff can respond quickly in the event of an emergency. These systems also help to prevent patients from getting lost or wandering off, which can be a safety hazard.
Another way that smart technology is utilised to improve safety in hospitals is through automated medication dispensing machines. By ensuring that medication is dispensed correctly and on time, these machines can help prevent errors that can often lead to dangerous side effects.
Smart hospitals use technology to change the way they deliver care, with the goal of improving public health. In the past, hospitals have been largely reliant on paper records and manual processes, which has led to errors and inefficiencies in care delivery. Now, smart hospitals benefit from electronic medical records (EMRs), Computerised Physician Order Entry (CPOE), and other Health Information Technology (HIT) tools to automate and standardise care processes. Resulting in safer, more coordinated, and more efficient care. In addition, smart hospitals use data from EMRs and other sources to identify trends and improve population health.
There are many other ways that smart technology is being used to make hospitals safer places. From automated hand sanitiser dispensers to bedside monitors that keep track of vital signs, the possibilities are endless. As more and more hospitals adopt these smart technologies, the overall safety of patients will continue to improve.
5. Better digital communication
Smart hospitals experience better communication for a number of reasons. Firstly, they have invested in the latest communication technology, which allows them to keep in touch with their staff and patients more effectively. Secondly, they have established clear protocols for how information should be shared between different departments and between staff and patients. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that vital information is not lost in the shuffle.
Thirdly, smart hospitals have taken steps to promote open communication between all members of the team, including doctors, nurses, and support staff. This ensures that everyone is aware of what is happening and able to offer their input when necessary. Finally, many smart hospitals have implemented systems that allow for real-time feedback, so that issues can be addressed quickly and efficiently. This allows for a more responsive and effective hospital environment overall.
6. Predictive analysis with AI
Smart hospitals are on the rise as the healthcare industry looks for ways to enhance research and development. By utilising big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT), smart hospitals can collect and analyse large amounts of patient data. This data can then be used to improve patient care, develop new treatments and therapies, and advance medical research.
In addition to collecting data, smart hospitals utilise AI to help doctors and nurses make better decisions. AI-powered applications can help doctors diagnose diseases, choose the best course of treatment, and predict patient outcomes. AI can also be used to improve the efficiency of hospital operations, such as by reducing waiting time and improving patient flow.
IoT is another important component of smart hospitals. By connecting devices and systems, IoT can help hospitals collect and share data more effectively. IoT can also be used to automate tasks and processes, such as ordering supplies and scheduling appointments. By utilising big data, AI, and IoT, smart hospitals can improve patient care, develop new treatments and therapy, and advance medical research. These technologies are transforming the healthcare industry and making it possible for hospitals to provide better care to their patients.
7. A more sustainable future
Smart hospitals use technology and data to become more sustainable. By reducing energy use, water use, and waste, smart hospitals save money and resources while also reducing their environmental impact. Technology plays a big role in making hospitals more sustainable. Smart buildings use sensors and data to optimise energy use, and many hospitals now use solar panels and other renewable energy sources.
Water management systems
Water usage is also addressed with smart water management systems that reduce wastage. Waste is another area where smart hospitals make a difference. By using data to track and manage waste, hospitals can reduce the amount of waste they produce. This not only saves resources, but also reduces the environmental impact of waste disposal.
Recently, the American magazine Newsweek and Statista published a ranked list of the smartest hospitals in the world. The list ranks the leading 300 hospitals from 28 different countries that utilise artificial intelligence, robot technology, telemedicine, virtual reality, and data-driven information sharing. Among the top 25 hospitals, we find three Scandinavian hospitals: Karolinska University Hospital, Aarhus University Hospital and Aalborg University Hospital. Together with 5 other hospitals on the list, they all use Systematic’s software for their day-to-day running and planning.