With the proliferation of technology, economic changes, growing expectations of patients, and the increasing shift in focus towards patient outcomes, it may be safe to say that the hospitals of the future will look dramatically different than today. The future hospitals will be digitally advanced, will have a heavy focus on consumer-focus care, will aim at reducing the cost of care, and will catch up with the other growing trends such as high level of personalization and on-demand access.

For instance, the Máxima Medical Center in the Netherlands has partnered with Royal Philips Electronics to offer a high-class mother-care facility with comprehensive services before, during and after childbirth. Apart from integrated solutions providing a very warm and supportive environment to mothers and their babies, the facility also incorporates the latest clinical findings to support the baby’s growth and has devised hospital workflows based on evidence-based best practices. The hospital also offers a new delivery experience with the use of interactive lighting animations and a smartphone application.

At SD Global, we get opportunities to interact with various doctors, and stakeholders responsible for technology implementations at hospitals. During our discussions about smart hospitals, we see several interesting insights coming up. So, if we have to fast-forward a few years and see what the hospitals of the future would look like, here are a few things which come to our mind.

Virtual Patient Care

With the growing aging population and skewed doctor-patient ratio, virtual care will become more of a requirement than a good-to-have thing. Patients don’t wish to travel to hospitals for post-surgery check-ups. In some other instances, doctors want to be constantly updated about the patient’s health. Virtual care, driven through the use of technology, will soon be a norm. With the proliferation of technology, sensors, and latest devices, patients can stay “technologically connected” with their doctors. Be it remote health consultations, constant monitoring of health data, or ensuring adherence of medication – the possibilities are endless. Through Virtual care, doctors can also stay connected with their patients to help them prepare for upcoming surgeries.

Connect Care Pro by Intermountain Healthcare, one of the largest telehealth programs in the US, aims to take health care to rural and remote areas and make it accessible to the underserved community. This ‘virtual hospital’ has a team of over 500 health care professionals who offer care through its 35 telehealth programs. Using this program, the health system has been able to save over $2.1 million over several years only by avoiding transfers for infant patients.

Everything connected through IoT

Boston Medical Center is an excellent example of implementation of IoT and connected devices. At this hospital, newborns are made to wear wristbands so that they can be located at any given point of time. If an attempt of abduction is made, the system automatically detects it and locks the elevator as well as the door automatically. Apart from this, the nurses in neonatal ICU are alerted on their office cell phones if the oxygen levels or heart rates show any abnormality. From smart parking, smart patient registration, automatic case allocation, smart patient management, to remote asset tracking – everything will soon become a reality.

AI and robots for back-office operations

Hospitals have to manage a huge inventory of beds, drugs, lab specimens, and various other materials and keep track of various equipment required for patient treatment, administration and surgeries. At the same time, there are records of the patients which need to be properly managed. They need to transfer materials from pharmacies, labs, and administrative units and any lapse in that could impact safety, cost, and quality. Traditionally, hospital staff has been spending over 10 hours in a day to organize these operations. However, with the use of automation, hospitals can save a lot of time and effort of hospital staff, which can then be used for priority tasks.

Robots can be programmed to deliver blood samples, collect test results, or deliver medicines to patients. Automation through Robots can play a significant role in handling account/ finance as well as revenue related to administrative tasks.

Blockchain

Healthcare Industry is one of the highest revenue-generating industries today. With increasing connectivity and wide adoption of the Internet and mobility, the industry is experiencing a high number of data breaches where patient records, and medical history details are compromised. By enabling distribution of transaction records through a peer-to-peer system with a shared digital ledger, Blockchain is poised to transform the healthcare industry. Blockchain, by fostering a blend of security, portability and easy accessibility will drive higher efficiency of healthcare outcomes and also reduce costs.

Data-Driven Care

The healthcare industry generates a humongous amount of data on an everyday basis – this data needs to be analysed constantly to help all the stakeholders in the ecosystem take data-driven decisions. Data-driven care, powered by technology, can help the healthcare industry make better-quality decisions and deliver superior quality of healthcare. With the right data, the treatment process can be faster, redundant tests can be avoided, and information can be quickly analyzed in case of emergencies. Data-driven care aims to improve access to patient data, foster data-driven decision-making, drive consistent and accurate treatment, reduce healthcare costs, and build sustainable healthcare. The hospitals of the future will leverage the power of data to achieve all this.

With the rapid changes in technology and its impact of various industries all over the world, the hospitals and healthcare institutions will need to be active participants in these changes, think progressively, do the planning, and adapt quickly.