The healthcare industry has always heavily depended on the technology sector. Sure, breakthroughs in the medical field like new drugs, vaccines, surgical procedures, etc., are essential to provide better healthcare services to the patients. But with the help of technology, hospitals and clinics can provide those services in a better and more effective way.
One such technology that healthcare businesses around the globe have embraced is the Internet of Things (IoT).
Due to the recent pandemic, hospitals and clinics realized that the need of the hour was complete and across the board digital transformation. As people were forced to remain confined in their homes, they looked for digital ways to get the healthcare services they required.
This gave the telehealth market a sudden surge in popularity.
As more and more patients began to see the benefits of remote medical checkups and digital healthcare services, hospitals and clinics had to make a shift and go digital.
In recent years, it has become apparent that on top of providing quality healthcare services to their patients, hospitals have to manage their assets and run their processes smoothly. Efficiency is the key for healthcare providers now. And so, they have started to see smart hospitals as the next logical step for the industry in its ongoing digital transformation journey.
In this post, we will learn about smart hospitals, their benefits for the patients and the business owners, and how you can make your hospital smarter.
- Smart hospitals allow businesses to fine-tune their internal processes and increase productivity and efficiency.
- Task automation helps healthcare businesses free their human work force to complete other tasks.
- IoT implementation also helps in improving the customer experience.
- According to Statista, the global smart hospital market was work $ 30 bn in 2021 and is likely to grow in the coming years.
- To transform your legacy hospital into a smart hospital with all the features and benefits, you need a trusted IoT development company and expert to guide your through the entire process.
Table of Contents
What is a Smart Hospital?
To understand what smart hospitals are and how they work, you must first understand IoT and how it works.
Simply put, IoT is a mesh network of internet-enabled devices that share data with each other.
For example, a smart light that turns off automatically when there is no one in the room or changes its intensity based on the time of the day. It is easy to understand that the smart light alone is insufficient here. It has to collect data from other sensors, like photosensitive sensors, to know the intensity of light outside the building and then change its own intensity accordingly. This flow of data between the sensor and the smart light is the simplest possible implementation of IoT.
But that’s not all. IoT has many use cases, including real-time data collection, asset management and monitoring, etc. For all these purposes, IoT devices stream their data to the back-end, where the manager can study it. The manager can monitor the assets in real-time and control IoT devices remotely.
All of this put together creates a well-implemented IoT infrastructure.
Now, take all of what we learned about IoT and apply it to a hospital or a clinic. Different sensors and devices on different floors, communicating with each other, the data flowing between them and the back-end where a manager can monitor it in real-time and control devices remotely, come together to create a smart hospital.
If you are still confused, it’s called a smart hospital because it automates processes that don’t require human interaction, gives devices the ability to take actions on their own if certain parameters are met, and keeps the entire building connected.
Due to the recent global health crisis, patients don’t want to compromise with the healthcare services they choose. So hospitals and clinics must do everything they can to make the patient experience smoother and their internal processes more efficient. And there is perhaps nothing better suited for this task than IoT.
Benefits of Building a Smart Hospital
There are many benefits of building a smart hospital for the owners and the patients. Some of the most significant ones are listed below:
1. Better Patient Experience
With the help of things like touch screens on walls and telehealth apps, you can improve the patient experience. By allowing them to access your services from a wall-mounted touch screen, you significantly cut down the waiting time. Making appointments also becomes easier since your patients can do so from your mobile app. IoT, in conjunction with AI, can help you make your patient more comfortable and their families less stressed.
2. Accurate Diagnosis
Doctors and nurses can employ a host of medical devices to monitor a patient’s health in real-time. This gives doctors the ability to study their patients more accurately and make accurate diagnoses. It happens all too often that due to lack of data or simple human errors, patients are misdiagnosed. This can lead to big, even fatal, problems. And to prevent that from happening, IoT-based healthcare solutions can be employed to make a more accurate diagnosis.
3. Remote Healthcare
The COVID pandemic made remote healthcare necessary for the patients and the doctors. IoT can help hospitals provide more streamlined remote healthcare services to their patients. Patients living in remote areas find it hard to travel to hospitals in their fragile state. Remote healthcare services can make the checkup process a lot easier. Furthermore, people who require remote monitoring, like people receiving home care, can be better managed and looked after thanks to IoT healthcare solutions.
4. Backoffice Task Automation
Apart from providing better services to the patients, hospitals also need to ensure that they work efficiently. That makes task automation a necessity. Healthcare providers are always struggling to utilize their staff optimally. Back office work takes substantial effort and cost when humans do it. The repetitive nature of these tasks makes human involvement almost unnecessary. Thanks to IoT and AI, hospitals can automate most repetitive tasks that don’t require serious decision-making. This way, your staff is free to do other jobs that require human intervention.
5. Improved Asset and Staff Monitoring
With the help of sensors and location tracking chips, you can track your various hospital assets and staff. In a big hospital with a staff of hundreds of people, it becomes very difficult to track people. IoT allows managers to locate the team.
IoT also allows managers to ensure that their assets and staff are optimally utilized. It helps them keep track of the comings and goings of their staff with sensors and facial recognition technologies. Assets can be located with an RFID chip. Managers can also monitor asset conditions and figure out if they need maintenance.
Read More: IoT in Healthcare: Top 6 Use Cases
6. Enhanced Security
A network of CCTV cameras, facial recognition technology, and AI combined can make your hospital much safer. A sophisticated AI can analyze the real-time feed on the back-end, and threats can be detected almost instantaneously. Smart hospitals need to cover all their bases to be called, and patient and data security are among them.
Hospitals are responsible for a lot of patient data. And with the IoT implementation, healthcare businesses expand their data banks exponentially. So they become an easy target for cybercriminals. IoT healthcare solutions can help you make your patient and other data secure.
How to Build a Smart Hospital?
Now that we know what smart hospitals are and what they have to offer to patients and healthcare business owners, it is time to figure out how to build a smart hospital.
However, it’s not easy to turn your traditional hospital into a smart hospital. There is no fixed pre-made architecture that you can just install in your hospital and call it a day. Though every hospital has some common needs, they have a lot of unique requirements as well. And your IoT solutions must meet your requirements and thus should be custom-built.
If you want to build a smart hospital, the best approach is to team up with an IoT partner. There are plenty of highly-skilled IoT solution providers and experts, such as Matellio, who can help you with healthcare software development. They will analyze your current infrastructure, business and process requirements, and budget and then guide you every step of the way.
For your IoT implementation to succeed, you must first identify your pain points. Requirements are the foundation on which you will build your smart hospital. You will have to study your current processes and workflows and figure out your priorities.
Keep in mind that digital transformation is most beneficial when done in stages. So to start, make a priority list. Do you want to automate your back office work and manage your staff more efficiently? Or do you want to improve the customer experience? Once you have your priority, you can start looking for the perfect IoT partner who is an expert in IoT-based healthcare solutions.
While your IoT partner should be able to guide you through the entire process, it can’t hurt to know more about IoT implementation.
A typical smart hospital has the following design.
As you can see in the above image, it comprises multiple layers. Let’s now discuss them in brief.
The device layer is made up of all the sensors and IoT-enabled devices. This layer is responsible for gathering the data in various formats throughout the hospital. There are different types of devices and sensors that can be employed.
a. Wearable Sensors:
These sensors are attached to the patients to monitor their vitals.
b. Location Sensors:
These are tracking sensors that monitor the wearer’s locations in real-time.
c. Ambient Sensors:
These sensors gather reading from the environment and are placed around the hospital to collect various readings.
Other sensors, such as implanted sensors, are also used in smart hospitals.
The device layer is built with those devices that will help you achieve your goals and requirements. Your IoT partner can tell you which devices and sensors will benefit you the most here.
Data transfer between devices and the back-end is always a challenge. Since these devices stream data in real-time, a lot of data is accumulated in the servers, which creates a lot of storing and management problems. Furthermore, sometimes there can be a significant lag between the devices and the back-end server where the AI is running. So if data is being sent to the back end and every small decision is made there, there is a lot of lag between data gathering and action-taking. To fix this problem, many hospitals go with Edge devices. Edge devices are IoT devices with a certain level of smartness in them. They can make small decisions on their own, thus fixing the lagging problem.
The network layer is concerned with how the devices will communicate with each other and the remote servers, what network protocols will be used, and what radio technology will be used.
The back-end is usually made up of servers. Servers can be on-premise or remote. The devices communicate with the remote server to store data and look for decisions. The server is also where the user application sits, which we will discuss later. A lot of people choose cloud IoT infrastructure over on-premise servers. The reason is simple: cloud IoT is cheaper, and the users are not responsible for its maintenance.
You need a well-built IoT hospital management application to manage smart hospital devices. The application layer is built on all the software tools required to handle a smart hospital. These applications run on servers, and users can access the real-time device data, control devices remotely, and get critical insights. With the help of AI, managers can see trends and get suggestions on how to improve the efficiency of the hospital.
Your IoT developer will be able to develop a seamless and user-friendly application for your smart hospital that will add value to your business.
IoT can help you become a smarter and more efficient healthcare business. With proper IoT implementation, you can improve your internal processes and provide a better patient experience. In the post-covid era, businesses, including healthcare, need to adapt and use every means to stay ahead of the competition. And IoT is one of the biggest tools in their arsenal.
If you are looking for an experienced IoT partner to help you with your smart hospital implementation project, then Matellio is your company. Our IoT experts have years of experience developing top-notch smart IoT solutions for hospitals and clinics. We follow the agile development methodology for all our projects to ensure maximum transparency with our clients. We offer flexible IoT development services, and you can scale them as you like.
Do you want to learn more about our IoT development services? Contact us and book a FREE consultation with our experts.
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