Why Do We Need Smart Hospitals?

Why Do We Need Smart Hospitals?

– By Travis Nightingale

September 1, 2023

Why do we need smart hospitals? Improving healthcare through healthy digital systems.

Why do we need smart hospitals? Simply put, optimised healthcare systems are important for their health-centric, wellness-preserving, and potentially life-saving effects. Beyond this imperative, improved resource management, potential cost-saving effects, sustainability benefits, and perks for personnel add to the appeal.

What are smart hospitals?

Like smart buildings, smart hospitals utilise data to better understand the minutiae of hospital operations. Smart sensors and pressure pads transmit real-time data readings across a range of metrics to a remotely accessible dashboard. These solutions – powered by the Internet of Things – collect data on unlimited areas within the hospital environment. This encompasses everything from the patients themselves (and their vitals and readings) to critical equipment, personnel, and storeroom inventories.

The collection of data, its analysis and intelligent reporting over time empowers hospitals and healthcare providers to tailor their offering around providing best value to patients. This extends from the immediate term to meeting the evolving needs of hospitals into the future.

By setting pre-programmable thresholds, alerts and notifications can be sent around undesirable or unusual changes. This inspires action that has the potential to avert issues and resolve problems as time sensitively as possible. It also puts detailed data around every patient in the hands of providers – both within the hospital and remotely. This allows for a greater standard of care to be offered.

In the medium and long term, these data sets allow decision-makers to strategise around actual, detailed data insights. This leaves less to chance and affords patients with a more intuitive, personalised experience.

Smart technologies and data insights also allow for improved general operations. Data collected around everything from equipment and HVAC systems to fire safety apparatus and legionella monitoring optimises maintenance and compliance to the highest standards in hospitals.

Smart energy and water monitoring solutions empower the simplified identification of wasted consumption and areas of potential saving. Using smart technologies to collect data in these areas makes for astute benchmarking and assessment of ROI over time.

How have smart hospitals been implemented?

As mentioned above – and in addition to the use cases above and below – the application of smart technology in hospital and healthcare environments is almost unlimited. The following are a few ways that smart technologies are being used today.

Digital Twins

One NHS pilot hospital uses smart technologies to create digital twins of its operations. A digital twin of their cancer centre’s in-patient ward has been created that allows for instant insights into the location of equipment and personnel through medical asset management, as well as factors such as air quality and temperature. As time goes by and more data is collected, the hospital is geared to improve standards of care by analysing how it is currently delivered.

Patient Tracking

Patient monitoring helps healthcare workers to manage their patients and patient flow as effectively as possible. Using smart technologies to do so removes manual processes – saving time and allowing staff to focus on tasks and incidents as required.

If it becomes necessary to monitor the movement of a patient in relation to the spread of a virus, for example, smart technologies simplify this process and has the ability to do so anonymously.

Patient Flow and Space Utilisation

By understanding and monitoring usage of hospital floorspace, there is real scope for space utilisation to be optimised. This means hospitals have the opportunity to provide care to as many people as possible in a way that does not compromise on the needs of patients.

This is useful in everyday applications and has the potential to be invaluable for healthcare providers in wartime hospitals, following natural disasters, or simply in provision of healthcare to vulnerable and needy.

As above, patient monitoring also streamlines patient flow roles of healthcare staff, reduces bottlenecks, and ensures care is provided as quickly as possible.

Benefits of smart beds in hospitals and smart hospitals

The Simplicity of Smart Hospitals

The retrofit capability of smart technologies within existing hospital infrastructure makes for easy deployment and integration.

Smart Hospitals Have Cost Saving Potential

This is achieved in myriad ways – from maximising care potential to reducing operating costs and optimising maintenance and management.

Smart Hospitals Are Sustainable Hospitals

A strategic approach to sustainability demands understanding. When it comes to making changes for sustainability, monitoring is the first step in understanding usage throughout entire facilities and identifying areas of waste and potential for change. Smart energy monitoring provides insights into cutting energy consumption and can be used to create a roadmap for the shift to renewable energy sources. In a similar vein, smart water monitoring helps to preserve this precious natural resource and smart waste management optimises the effective and responsible disposal and management of all kinds of waste.

Smart Beds and Smart Hospitals Support Efficient Personnel

 Within the broader context of smart hospitals and utilising smart beds in general, more accurate care helps to boost efficiency for personnel. Nurses are empowered to remotely monitor the status and location of patients from the nursing station. They are alerted as soon as a patient leaves the bed, uses the restroom, or moves into a position that hinders recovery.

These enhanced standards of care can result in early recovery and discharge from hospital – and greatly reduce the risk of human error. It also supports greater collaboration between departments and for shift changes for improved continuity of care across the whole hospital environment.

Smart Hospitals Promote Automation

One powerful positive effect of big data and smart technologies is the opportunity for automation – and how this frees up personnel to perform their jobs better and more efficiently. This is certainly not robotic – and this goes in hand with personalised care offerings for healthcare and wellness.

Smart Hospital and Ward Design

Analysing the data of day-to-day hospital usage helps to shape the design of hospitals of the future. By understanding how hospitals operate, this data can be used to create intelligent models for sustainable smart hospitals – shaped for suitability and flexibility in a changing world with new and evolving challenges.

A Smart Step Towards Smart Hospitals

Why do we need smart hospitals? With a fast-growing, ageing population, the pressure is on healthcare providers to create accessible high standards of care to patients. This takes the pressure off of infrastructure and personnel and concentrates on wellness and quality of life. It all starts with smart technologies. Contact Smarter Technologies Group for more information. 

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