The concept of ‘digital hospitals’ started emerging since the year 2000 when EHR (Electronic Health Records) started gaining momentum and popularity.

Hospitals around the world have started integrating new technologies into their systems, and EHR has been making it possible for them to consolidate and store huge amounts of data. The seeds of the concept of smart hospitals were already being sown during the digitization of hospitals when hospitals started seeing the positive results of it.

Statistics show that by 2025, 10% of hospitals across the globe will become or will have started implementations to become smart hospitals.

Let’s take a look at the top 5 technologies that have a huge impact in shaping the smart hospitals of the future

EHR (Electronic Health Records)

EHR was the first revolution in the healthcare industry, paving the way for digitized hospital management. EHR help hospitals securely store and access patients’ vital information such as medical history, diagnosis, medication, treatment plans, and much more. They play a vital role in aggregating all patient data and make all the important data available to healthcare professionals on time for early diagnosis, prevention, and intervention.

One can quickly access, pull up information in an emergency or exam room, verify the patient history, and imaging of the test results. Quick transfers of medical records, lesser errors, faster action due to availability of data hands-on are some of the many benefits of EHRs. They also help hospitals save time and money through lesser paperwork, fewer storage issues, increased quality care, greater efficiency, and higher accuracy.

Cloud Computing

It is estimated that by 2025, hospitals will spend more than $5 billion in each of the areas of cloud computing, data analytics, and remote patient monitoring.

These numbers are testimony to the fact that cloud computing is increasingly gaining popularity in the healthcare sector. Cloud is instrumental in managing healthcare data, and cloud-based tools are vital in expanding healthcare IT management.

For instance

  • With every passing day, the healthcare sector is generating a vast amount of data. Hospitals want to store their data without too much capital investment in hardware and software and that puts cloud into focus.
  • The multi-geographical nature of smart hospitals makes the cloud an inevitable solution.
  • As cybersecurity threats are increasing, healthcare institutions have started relying on cloud computing for data storage and ensure protection against hacks and data breaches.

The cloud is helping healthcare institutions get the benefits of any time, anywhere data access, centralized control over critical data and systems, and enhanced security of institutional data.

Healthcare institutions are choosing between private, public, or hybrid cloud solutions based on their unique business and administrative needs. However, many times, healthcare institutions lack the ability to make the right choice because of the lack of internal technical capabilities. In such situations, it is recommended to work with a technology expert who can suggest the right mix of solutions based on the internal systems, workflows, users, needs, and budgets.

IoT (Internet of Things)

The IoT in healthcare market size is projected to grow from USD 55.5 billion in 2019 to USD 188 billion by 2024!

Healthcare is one of the prominent sectors warming up to the concept of IoT. Today, hospitals around the world are using IoT devices and sensors to collect, process, and analyze data from various systems such as fetal monitors, temperature monitors, electrocardiograms, blood glucose levels, etc. to deliver better patient care. IoT plays a vital role in delivering valuable and real-time data to practitioners, physicians, and doctors, enabling faster diagnosis and enhanced doctor-patient interaction. Several IoT-enabled apps and systems are allowing hospitals to improve their operational efficiencies and enhance the quality of care.

For instance, smart medication through dispensers helps in monitoring, dispensing, and prescribing medication while also allowing storage of medication at the right temperature. A similar concept of smart beds is making inroads into smart hospitals that can collect detailed information about patient positions and vitals and help doctors deliver better care. IoT is also helping hospitals in better inventory management through remote asset management.

Some more benefits of IoT include

  • Enhanced reporting and monitoring
  • End-to-end connectivity to enable better decision-making
  • Timely alerts and tracking
  • Real-time data analysis and insights
  • Remote medical assistance
AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Several industry verticals such as manufacturing and banking have already leveraged the power of AI to automate tasks, quickly process information, and enable data-driven decision-making. No doubt Artificial Intelligence (AI) has transformed the healthcare sector as well.

Following are some of the areas where AI has made a significant impact on healthcare

  • Remote health monitoring
  • Digital consultations enabled by chatbots
  • Decision support provided through AI-enabled medical record management
  • Precision medicine powered by data analytics
  • Image diagnosis using deep learning and artificial intelligence
  • Real-time case prioritization
  • Robotic surgeries
  • Accurate diagnosis, personalized care, and timely intervention for chronic health management

Google’s Deepmind Health project is a good example that demonstrates the capabilities of AI in healthcare. Another example is that of IBM Watson for Oncology. With advanced ability to analyze patient data, it can provide treatment plans that can be personalized by combining data from the patient’s file, clinical expertise, and with the support of external research. The capabilities of data can also be used for the early detection of cancer or vascular diseases.

Big Data and Analytics

The world’s data volume is expected to grow 40% per year, and 50 times by 2020.

The healthcare industry generates, collects, and stores a humongous amount of data for better patient care and optimized hospital management. Big Data Analytics helps hospitals optimally process and analyze this data and provide actionable insights to the stakeholders to take real-time decisions.

Some of the many areas where hospitals are using the power of data analytics include

  • Get a 360-degree view of the patients and enable highly personalized care
  • Improve patient safety and wellness by getting real-time access to data
  • Facilitate remote patient care
  • Increase operational efficiencies and lower costs
  • Improve population health
  • Enable better staff and asset management

For example – The Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris hospitals collect data from a variety of sources to predict the number of patients that are expected to be admitted in the hospital and accordingly enhance staff management. A web browser-based interface is used by doctors, nurses, and other administrative staff to forecast visits and admission rates 15 days in advance. This considerably reduces the waiting time for patients while facilitating enhanced quality of care.

As the concept of smart hospitals is gaining momentum, hospitals have started adopting emerging and sophisticated technologies to enhance operational efficiencies, reduce costs, enhance the quality of care, and ensure patient satisfaction.

It is important for healthcare stakeholders to select the right technologies and solutions that drive the availability of affordable care solutions, reduce complexity, and empower healthcare decision-makers with actionable insight at the point of care.

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