Jan 27 2022

The Future of Smart Hospital Strategy Brings Care to the Home

Wearables, tablets and automation all play an important role in transforming smart hospital strategy, including extending it to the home.

Hospitals are becoming more digital and interconnected through smart hospital strategies. Creating a smart hospital environment involves modernizing the patient and clinician journeys by applying technologies such as automation, Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) devices, wearables, tablets, displays and smartphones to transform healthcare and improve productivity.

However, these technologies also need to be secured to protect patient data and hospital infrastructure. Dr. Hon Pak, chief medical officer for Samsung, explains what’s changing in smart hospital strategies, what infrastructure is needed for smart hospital technology, and how healthcare organizations can best implement technology to improve efficiencies and patient care.

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How Smart Hospital Strategy Benefits Healthcare

Pak describes smart hospitals as connected, intelligent and insight driven.

“People are looking at how to combine technologies that not only collect data, but also produce insights, with clinical and administrative workflows for a very specific business goal,” he says. “Every hospital is in a different place from a business perspective, and so the smart hospital is really more of a broad concept in which organizations try to compete by providing the right set of technologies to make patient experiences better.”

Tablets are one technology enabling smart hospital strategy. Some hospitals have implemented tablets at the bedside to give patients access to their own data and medical imaging, which increases transparency and provides opportunities for patient education. Tablets can also serve as entertainment for patients and can be used to collect information about their care experiences. Allowing patients to self-report rather than relying on nurses to record information helps offset nurses’ workloads. Nurses and clinicians also benefit from the portability of tablets, which give them easy access to the EHR and other essential apps.

DISCOVER: What makes a smart hospital run?

“Patients are probably the most underutilized resource in healthcare,” says Pak. “Automation and smart hospital technology empower patients to do the things they need to do without support, unless they need it.”

Not all healthcare organizations are trying to solve for the same problem, and they’ll each likely have a different approach to implementing smart technology solutions. While efficiency, cost and patient experience are important for all healthcare organizations, their approach to smart hospital strategy will differ depending on what specific problem they’re solving for. For instance, a hospital responding to a workforce shortage may implement automation or robotics to increase efficiencies in areas that lack workforce support, Pak says.

Networking and Security Are Essential to Smart Hospitals

It’s important for healthcare organizations to ensure they have network connectivity and bandwidth where it’s needed.

“One of the main challenges healthcare organizations have is bandwidth. Many basement areas don’t have the necessary connectivity,” says Pak. “Samsung’s Grants Support Program can bring a level of connectivity that supports real-time data imaging to improve efficiency and quality of care in those areas.”

EXPLORE: 5 steps to secure Internet of Medical Things devices.

Additionally, with the rise in IoMT devices and other connected technologies, it’s important for healthcare organizations to increase their investment in security tools, experts and training.

“As devices become more connected, especially with IoMT, the risk goes up and so the investment in security also has to go up,” says Pak. “Healthcare data is much more valuable that some other types of data. For that reason, the amount of investment has to increase proportionally as healthcare organizations consider smart hospital strategies.”

Wearables Take Smart Hospital Strategy Outside the Hospital

Smart watches and other wearables, still in the early phases of the transition consumer devices to medical devices, can help healthcare organizations improve the patient experience beyond the four walls of the hospital.

More than simple step counters, today’s sophisticated wearables are able to measure sleep quality and are being used in pilot programs for fall detection and wayfinding. Another potential use is the continuous measurement of vitals such as blood pressure.

Dr. Hon Pak
The smart hospital isn’t about doing all things for all people. It is about taking those things that you’re really good at, and then leveraging technology to help you become even better at what you do.”

Dr. Hon Pak Chief Medical Officer, Samsung

“The way we measure blood pressure is episodic. When you come to the doctor, we do a blood pressure check, but you may only see a doctor two or three times a year. We think somehow that correlates with what’s happening throughout your life and throughout your day,” says Pak. “Well, it turns out that’s not the case. Blood pressure varies from hour to hour, and there are even nocturnal variations. The bottom line is that wearables will give nurses and doctors early indicators of issues instead of just reacting once the problem becomes serious.”

Pak explains that wearables are accelerating the shift of care from the hospital to ambulatory clinics. Part of smart hospital strategy is knowing what to do with less and what to do with more. This means applying technology to the areas in most need of attention, such as the ICU, ER and surgery, which should take place in a hospital setting. Wearables enable clinicians to monitor patients in the ICU more efficiently, and even to discharge patients earlier in some cases while still monitoring them from home as they recover.

“The smart hospital isn’t about doing all things for all people. It is about taking those things that you’re really good at, and then leveraging technology to help you become even better at what you do,” says Pak. “Then you can use technologies to push and delegate those other things that can be done better and more affordably outside of the hospital.”

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