Turning Science Fiction into Reality:  Interconnected and Intelligent Hospital Networks

Turning Science Fiction into Reality: Interconnected and Intelligent Hospital Networks

Over the past decade, there have been many impressive developments in healthcare, ranging from robotic operations, 3D printed implants, and big data analysis programs that resolve health related concerns within seconds.  We have witnessed how artificial intelligence can be used for faster and more accurate diagnoses, and how mobile devices and other applications can monitor and control chronically ill patients. There are many more digital processes or high-tech programs, applications and equipment that can have a significant impact on patients’ speedy recovery and help reduce healthcare costs, among other benefits. All of these advances may sound like science fiction, but the reality is that we are moving toward an increasingly more intelligent and interconnected network of hospitals.

The perception of hospitals being cold places with uncomfortable furniture and limited technology is beginning to change. Hospitals have become increasingly modern facilities with highly equipped intensive care units with patient care areas where patients and their families can have a more enjoyable experience during their time in the hospital. This not only benefits the patient, but also the doctors, healthcare personnel, and the healthcare system in general.

The pandemic exposed the challenges in the health sector and revealed the need for better infrastructure and technology in hospitals. Healthcare workers face tremendous process-heavy workloads and, as a result, also face many unhappy patients. Nowadays patients are better informed, they demand better care, and want to be involved in determining their treatment options.

Some hospitals have already turned to technological companies to move towards a more connected and “smart” hospital that will help them develop their services and further improve patient, caregiver, and physician experiences. These hospitals are investing in technology that facilitates connection and connectivity between coworkers, including equipment in rooms and various hospital wards, as well as applications and instant information that allows them to respond more efficiently to the needs of patients and their doctors.  According to a number of experts interviewed by LLYC, some of the solutions being implemented now in new interconnected hospitals include artificial intelligence, workflow automation, and mobility solutions. They also include state-of-the-art technology in certain specialty areas such as cardiology and interventional care, since these hospitals want to offer a unique experience focused on results rather than just focusing on treatments and inventory volumes.

Digitization vs. Intelligence

We sometimes assume that digitalization is synonymous with intelligence when it comes to healthcare services. However, according to experts, implementing digital systems like automated robotic processes is a step towards a smarter service, but it is not seen as a “smart” hospital.

How do “smart hospitals” work?

For some healthcare tech companies, the integration of technology may start in a room where different systems are integrated to respond to the specific needs of each patient. It also includes monitoring the medical equipment, lighting, curtains and the beds with sensors that measure patient vital signs and body weight, just to name a few. What’s more, it is now possible to extend these monitoring and control services to patients’ homes through the use of apps.

These kinds of hospitals also incorporate data analysis to facilitate medical research and allow for better decision making and augmented reality to help train healthcare personnel. These hospitals also use cloud platforms to aggregate and analyze large volumes of data, which is also useful for imaging and diagnostics, along with apps and the internet of things.

Much like a hospital, an entire healthcare system should be digitalized and interconnected so patient information is available through a computer with internet access and is exclusive to authorized personnel. When we talk about a healthcare system, we are talking about all hospitals, regardless of whether they belong to the public or private sector, state or regional services or federal services or health subsystems, which is often the case in some Latin American countries where the healthcare system integrates medical services from different sectors.

Without a doubt, technology allows for more efficient processes, it benefits patients, increases the productivity of physicians, reduces the number of days a patient spends in the hospital and creates an efficient healthcare system, ultimately resulting in lower costs and better medical care.

Javier MarínDirector Sénior de Healthcare Américas de LLYC

Javier MarínDirector Sénior de Healthcare Américas de LLYC