Withglobal healthcare spending projected to reach $8.7 trillion by 2020, the healthcare sector has been a front-runner in the adoption of modern technologies, which has led to the emergence of the smart hospital concept. Although standalone hospital information systems have been enabling healthcare organizations to improve operational efficiency to a certain extent, smart hospitals that integrate end-to-end healthcare operations allow organizations to improve care delivery and patient experience. By leveraging powerful new technologies like IoT, cloud, and AI, smart hospitals help streamline clerical tasks and enable more efficient and effective decision-making.

Preparing for smart hospital solutions

With healthcare costs spiraling out of control – the total expenditure on health per capita in Malaysia alone is $1,040 – a rethink of how healthcare is provided and managed is crucial to ensure healthcare remains affordable and widely available for future generations. Smart hospitals combine the power of modern technologies and integrate the entire healthcare environment thereby offering healthcare practitioners the insight they need for improved diagnosis, treatment, and patient experience. And although moving towards a smart hospital is important to improve healthcare outcomes and lower costs, making the jump without sufficient planning is a recipe for disaster. The smart hospital concept requires healthcare institutions to consider several aspects, including organization readiness and a good understanding and knowledge of modern technology.

As a technologist who is working in the creation of smart healthcare solutions, here’s how you can prepare yourself:

  • Keep an eye on the latest technology:Technology is truly redefining the healthcare industry of the future. From mobile and cloud technology to smart sensors and healthcare apps – the first step towards a successful smart hospital program is keeping an eye on the latest technology and evaluating how it can be leveraged to enhance administration, streamline operations, deliver superior patient care, and improve profitability. Today, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning, Big Data and Analytics and Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) lie at the crux of any hospital program. Adopting these technologies will not only enhance patient outcomes but also lower healthcare costs while delivering personalized care.
  • Get an understanding of IoT:With 40% of healthcare organizations expected to use IoT-enabled biosensors by 2019, IoT is an integral part of any smart hospital solution. From smart facility management to predictive maintenance, remote health monitoring to personalized treatment, the use cases for IoT are endless. Since smart hospitals are basically vast ecosystems comprising connected, Internet-enabled devices, a good understanding of IoT is extremely important. Acquaint yourself with IoT, its nuances and its role in the smart hospital journey to successfully integrate the physical and digital world and maximize healthcare outcomes while boosting staff productivity. Only by leveraging IoT, hospitals can efficiently gather information about individuals, systems, applications, devices, and workspaces in order to drive better healthcare outcomes.
  • Focus on usability: Success of any smart hospital solution depends largely on its ease of use. Since there might be a sizeable portion of the hospital staff that is not tech-savvy, making sure the smart hospital solution you design is user-friendly and intuitive is extremely important. With mHealth market expected to be valued at around $58.8 billion, make sure to incorporate an easy-to-use and intuitive interface to enable patients to easily make appointments, doctors to view patient EHRs, and hospital staff to collaborate efficiently with their team – all using their mobile phones. A user-friendly interface ensures hospitals to quickly access medical records and important health information from a single repository and easily retrieve medical history as and when required.
  • Consider interoperability: With current methods of exchanging patient health information amounting to a whopping $17,160 of annual expense for a single-clinician practice, ensuring interoperability between the host of technology systems like EMRs, wearables, monitoring devices, etc. is vital. Effective interoperability ensuresvarious healthcare systems work together within and across organizational boundaries while ensuring care is delivered based on an integrated view of patient health information. By ensuring interoperability between various systems, you can enable access to critical patient health information and ensure patients get the right care, from the right provider at the right time – increasing the value of the smart hospital solution and accelerating the effective delivery of health care at low costs.
  • Ensure scalability: As technology advances, hospitals expand across geographies, and as the demand for affordable and efficient healthcare rises exponentially, building a smart hospital solution that is flexible and scalable is important to keep pace with trends. As the hospital grows, and as patient needs evolve, the smart hospital solution should be able to keep up with the demands as well as with the growing population and increasing number of aging people. Scalability ensures that the smart hospital solution can adapt to new technologies – not only to reliably and securely support today’s healthcare demands but also scale to support the demands of tomorrow as well.

Smart Hospitals for Improved Care Outcomes

As healthcare organizations battle with small-scale, standalone healthcare information systems, achieving end-to-end visibility into hospital operations and patient health has become a daunting challenge. That’s where a smart hospital solution comes into picture; by combining various technologies like machine learning, AI and IoT, smart hospital enables healthcare organizations to access the right data at the right time, thereby improving care delivery and enhancingdiagnostic and treatment accuracy. By reducing the chances of error and freeing up clinicians’ time, smart hospitals can enable healthcare practitioners to deliver personalized care, improve care outcomes and enhance patient satisfaction. Developers creating smart hospital solutions need to focus on not only technical advancements but also aspects such as user experience and scalability to ensure that the solutions they develop deliver the desired impact.