The Next Frontier in Healthcare Evolution: Smart Hospitals

The Next Frontier in Healthcare Evolution: Smart Hospitals

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According to a Statista report the global Smart Hospitals market is estimated to reach a value of $83Bn by 2026. The transition to smart hospitals is driven by the evolution of AI, data, and automation technologies for healthcare enterprises allowing them to operate in a decentralized environment and connect with a broader ecosystem for healthcare delivery.  

 

Technologies like wearable tech, extended reality, and telesurgery have soared patient expectations. They want healthcare services to be outstretched into a wider ecosystem beyond the hospital periphery while aiming for better quality, efficiency, and cost optimization. Smart hospital helps the current hospital model to leverage digital solutions and establish an innovative environment of care transcending geographical limits while reducing the cost associated with running traditional hospitals.                                    

  

 

What Are Smart Hospitals 

 

Smart Hospitals are next-generation hospitals working as a part of a decentralized but connected network. All services related to cure, disease management, and prevention are served through a common network of specialized healthcare entities. For example, preventive healthcare measures are provided at the gym, monitoring happens even from home through wearable tech, medical treatments and minor procedures are conducted at independent centers, freeing up hospitals only for major surgeries and intensive care. 

 

Characteristics of Smart Hospitals 

 

McKinsey Health presented the main characteristics of smart hospitals as the establishment of interoperability of systems, mobile integrated solutions, digitalization of all information, establishment of unified communication systems, provision of stable core infrastructure, and system automation. 

 

Smart hospitals are digitally connected to the rest of the ecosystem. In some systems, Smart Hospitals serve as the information aggregator. They collect information about the patients, store it in appropriate format over cloud storages, and share data with other providers (abiding by government data confidentiality regulations) 

 

From chatbots to web-based tracking smart hospitals heavily rely on automation. Automated procedures and devices replace certain human activities, freeing up the staff to spend more time on direct patient care. Using robots and other digital technologies enables the clinical staff to engage with patients in an innovative way. Web-based tracking of all patient services, electronic capacity allocation, and digital patient record management further improve the efficiency of hospital operations. In the nursing field, wearable tech and IoT is used to automate the measurement of patients’ vital signs and various indicators. 

 

Smart hospitals focus on patient-centric treatment plans. Leveraging IoT devices and mobile technologies improves patient satisfaction by enabling timely and effective patient communications. It further makes real-time patient monitoring more accurate and proactive. 

 

Driven by data and analytics, Smart Hospital transforms the operational and healthcare delivery processes in a hospital. They collect data from all the devices, clinics, and healthcare service providers within the connected network to build insights for diagnosing diseases, formulate treatment plans, and identify areas of operational improvements to build patient experience excellence.   

 

 

Benefits of Smart Hospitals for Healthcare Personas 

 

Smart hospitals bring benefits in an unprecedented way for healthcare providers, clinicians, and patients. 

 

Healthcare Providers 

 

Smart Hospitals help healthcare providers to manage the day-to-day operations at a different scale. Data is heavily used to identify the specialized healthcare services that are unavailable in a region and hospitals can leverage this information to become the unrivalled service provider. Automation of admission procedures to insurance claims can reduce the workload on management staff and generate patient satisfaction at the same time. Smart hospitals tie up with various universities, research institutes, and AI platforms to contribute data for AI research and mutually benefit from phenomenal findings about emerging disease patterns or their treatment SOPs to deliver a cutting-edge healthcare service.  

 

Clinicians and Hospital Staff 

 

A smart hospital improves the efficiency of hospital staff including doctors, nurses, technicians, and non-medical staff. AI helps doctors with diagnoses of diseases observing patterns and delivering more accurate treatments. Robotics makes it possible to conduct telesurgery by specialist surgeons from different cities over a 5G network. Wearable tech helps nurses and caregivers monitor vulnerable patients even beyond the hospital premises Automation takes care of routine tasks like appointment scheduling, billing, inventory updating, and bed occupancy register freeing operational staff to focus on more important tasks. A robust cloud network keeps all the departments connected and makes the sharing of data easier to ensure synchronized operations. 

 

Patients 

 

Smart hospitals extend patient care beyond the hospital premises and even geographical borders at times. They open up an interconnected network of specialized healthcare solutions for the patient catering wholesomely to their need. Wearable techs ensure critical patients are constantly monitored irrespective of hospital or home residency and an emergency response team can be assigned immediately in case of some emergency AI-integrated chatbots can conduct the initial round of questionnaires to analyze the symptoms and assign the appropriate doctor for further diagnosis. Extending boundaries of care and ensuring availability of medical services 24/7 Smart hospitals build top-notch experience for patients. 

 

The Types of Smart Hospital Services 

 

Mobile Health Services 

 

Mobile health services represent healthcare provisions delivered through mobile devices like cell phones, tablets, and wearable techs. Personal health records (PHRs) generated by aggregating activity levels, weight, and blood glucose readings with treatment and examination data from various medical facilities encourage self-monitoring and management of health conditions. 

 

A study conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the United States examined heart rate variability (HRV) data from medical staff wearing smartwatches with HRV measurement apps. The analysis demonstrated that changes in HRV could indicate COVID-19 infection, even in asymptomatic individuals. Similarly, research at Stanford University revealed that 81% of participants wearing smart watches or fitness trackers exhibited altered HRV patterns up to 9 days before experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. 

 

AI-Based Services 

 

AI initially gained popularity for object identification in images, a trend that extended to the healthcare industry early on. In the medical imaging sector, numerous AI models have received regulatory approval, benefiting radiology departments in smart hospitals by expediting the analysis of CT, MRI, and X-ray data. 

 

AI plays a crucial role in pre-screening scans, highlighting areas requiring a radiologist’s attention to streamline workflows and provide more time for additional scans or patient result explanations. It prioritizes critical cases like brain bleeds, reducing the time for diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening conditions. Additionally, AI enhances the resolution of radiology images, enabling clinicians to lower the required dosage per patient. 

 

AI-driven services leverage intelligence, encompassing learning, reasoning, perception, and understanding capabilities, to diagnose and predict diseases effectively. AI acts as the core of clinical decision support systems, aiding physicians in making informed decisions for diagnosis and treatment, thereby improving treatment outcomes, efficiency, and safety.  

 

Siemens Healthineers has developed deep learning-based autocontouring solutions that ensure precise contouring of organs at risk in radiation therapy. 

 

Extended Reality Services 

 

Extended reality comprises advanced technologies and services such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). VR immerses users in a virtual environment, AR builds an augmented perception over the real world overlaying digital information, and MR merges elements of both technologies in real-world settings. 

 

In healthcare, VR holds promise for clinical skills training and practitioner education, addressing cognitive, psychological, motor, and functional challenges. Clinicians are increasingly exploring VR simulations for clinical trials and research owing to positive feedback in medical literature. Skills acquired through VR training can translate to improved performance in real surgical settings. 

 

 

The Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has leveraged AR technology for extremity reconstruction surgery, utilizing a 3D vascular model to identify anatomical structures preoperatively without incisions, based on CT angiography data. This approach reduces anesthesia time, minimizes surgical risks, accelerates training, and offers remote surgical support. Additionally, AR technology provides patients with drug information in a 3D visual format, illustrating drug mechanisms for better understanding. 

 

 

Telehealth 

 

Telehealth encompasses telemedicine services delivered using information and communication technologies (ICT), including tele-intensive care units (tele-ICU), tele-consultations, and telesurgery. It can occur synchronously (via phone and video), asynchronously (through patient portals, e-consults), and via virtual agents (like chatbots) and wearable devices, eliminating the need for in-person contact. 

 

Twine Health, now part of Fitbit, enables patients to collaborate with healthcare providers to develop action plans, monitor progress using devices and apps, and instigate behavioral changes. Patients engage with health coaches and actively participate in their treatment process through tablets, fostering discussions and enhancing their overall care experience. 

 

Digital and Robotic Surgery 

 

In smart hospital operating rooms, advanced technologies like intelligent video analytics and robotics are integrated to collect data and offer AI-driven alerts and guidance to surgeons. 

 

Medical device developers and startups are focusing on enhancing surgical training, helping in pre-operative planning, delivering real-time support and monitoring during surgeries, and facilitating post-operative documentation and analysis. 

 

Moon Surgical, a Paris-based robotic surgery company, is developing Maestro, an adaptable surgical-assistant robotics system designed to seamlessly integrate with existing operating room equipment and workflows. Robotic services encompass a wide range of medical tasks across surgery, rehabilitation, nursing care, and logistics. 

 

Seoul National University Hospital has created a robotic system utilizing telepresence technology to enable direct communication between patients and medical staff for remote collaborative care. An economic assessment reports a significant reduction in doctor visits per year following the deployment of the robot. 

 

 

Conclusion 

 

Embracing the evolution of healthcare, the shift towards smart hospitals emerges as a vital progression. The future landscape of smart hospitals promises a departure from traditional healthcare settings, ushering in a decentralized care approach. These hospitals will no longer be the exclusive providers of all healthcare services but will focus on core in-house offerings while engaging with a broader care ecosystem in a flexible and effective manner. Achieving smart hospitals demands substantial investment and collaborative efforts among stakeholders. It entails a bold reimagining of processes, integration of cutting-edge technology, and a transition towards data-informed decision-making. Through this digital transformation, healthcare providers can rise to meet the evolving demands of a dynamic world, ensuring precise and personalized care for all patients. 

 

 

Smart Hospitals

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