The Digital Hospital of the Future: It Doesn’t Start With Tech

Megan Williams

The digital hospital of the future is quickly becoming the standard hospital of today. It’s been three years since we saw the launch of North America’s first “all digital hospital,” Humber River Hospital. Robots, real-time locating devices and a centralized dispatch area where IT specialists keep an eye out for issues are slowly becoming the standard in hospitals across the United States.

Hospital IT leaders at less advanced facilities are sitting on an opportunity — a chance to accelerate their organization’s transition into a future of healthcare that leverages digital technology to benefit all its stakeholders. But that starts with understanding that a smart hospital runs much deeper than a few tech upgrades.

A Focus on Patients

For all the talk of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), smart hospitals are ultimately built to facilitate the patient experience. That means implementing digital solutions that focus on patients and leverage their existing relationship with technology.

For example, Cedars-Sinai‘s smart room pilot program includes more than 100 rooms where patients can use Aiva, an Alexa-powered platform, to interact with doctors and nurses. Patients are given Amazon Echos, and they can tell the devices to do anything from change the TV channel to call a nurse for help.

Boasts Advanced Analytics

Healthcare has been working to create a more holistic view of the patient experience for years now. An analytics-powered solution, the consumer data platform (CDP), is proving to be a powerful step in building a 360-degree view of the patient consumer, according to Forbes.

While this technology is relatively new, it promises the ability to track and interpret a patient’s entire relationship with a hospital — from online scheduling to website interactions, and clinical procedures to billing — all in one tool.

Promotes Easier Navigation

GPS is pretty much standard in navigating the world, and the digital hospital of the future shouldn’t be any different.

Maneuvering confusing parking options and maze-like hallways can make an already stressful situation even worse for patients, many of whom are facing the most difficult time of their lives. Smart parking apps that help them find clear parking spaces and strategically placed self-service kiosks can ease wayfinding challenges, and also assist with self-check-in and potentially even bill payment.

Easily Accessible

To stay aligned with modern digital technology, the smart hospital of the future won’t be contained to any one building. Telemedicine is already a common option in healthcare, and new advances will stretch those boundaries even further.

Remote monitoring is enhanced by apps and the internet of medical things, reports Philips. Bio-telemetry leverages sensors to collect crucial data and analytics including heart rate and general vital signs. Wearables play a part, too, giving individual patients insight into their own health and helping them have more informed conversations with their providers. Digital hospital solutions should empower clinicians to monitor patients wherever they are and ultimately cut back on the need for in-person appointments.

Efficient Processes

There’s a wealth of patient-facing options for the digital hospital of the future, but this is just the beginning. Healthcare budgets and staff are strained and burdened with manual processes, meaning that the opportunities for IT leaders to help their organizations do more with less are limitless and necessary.

Hospital administrators are struggling with an epidemic of doctor burnout and coder shortages. Reports of nurses threatening to strike are rampant on LinkedIn, as staffing issues take their toll, and the demands of EHRs require even more work from clinicians.

On multiple fronts, smart hospital IT leaders are leveraging AI to improve workflows, lessen the burden on staff and create environments where data is leveraged to its fullest extent. This is happening in every space from population health initiatives to improving revenue cycle workflows and even care delivery.

Ultimately, all of these solutions rely on data, meaning they require a strategic approach that centralizes records and prioritizes security with proven workflows that secure a chain of custody to avoid the breaches that are so common in healthcare. This level of innovation requires offloading administrative burdens so that your team can spend less time putting out fires, and more time helping your organization catch up with the future.

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