The Road to Smart Hospital Implementation

POSTED BY Adam Wears
The healthcare sector prides itself to be at the forefront of technological innovation. However, the fragmentary way in which many hospitals acquire technical solutions introduces cost, time, and resource inefficiencies that, overall, hinder care delivery and hospitals’ ability to meet their strategic objectives.

To this end, the last several years have seen healthcare providers around the world embrace the concept of the ‘smart hospital’ as a means of optimising multiple aspects of their operational performance. This is not to say, however, that smart hospitals are infallible, and indeed the implementation thereof can present significant challenges for adopting organisations in terms of cybersecurity, interoperability, and execution. 

The most fundamental aspect of the smart hospital is EHRs, or Electronic Health Records. Indeed, they possess significant advantages over traditional paper-based records and are an invaluable tool for healthcare professionals and administrators looking to optimise clinical workflows.

EHRs have been adopted by the majority of patients and healthcare facilities in the developed world, owing to the high levels of digitisation present within these countries’ healthcare systems. This paves the way for smart hospitals to be deployed on a significant scale across North America, Europe, and Far East & China.

Unfortunately, the lack of digitalisation within the healthcare systems of the developing world, as well as low levels of computer literacy, means that implementation has been sparse, particularly in Indian Subcontinent and Africa & Middle East. This, in turn, means that smart hospitals are unlikely to be deployed on a similar scale.
While it may be easy for vendors to persuade hospital administrators of the advantages of EHRs, especially given the notable cost and time savings that can be achieved through their deployment, these newfound efficiencies may not prove enough to obtain buy-in from healthcare professionals; a significant number of whom have expressed scepticism, if not outright hostility towards EHRs.

The widespread deployment of EHRs, at least in the developed world, suggests that all primary barriers to implementation have been overcome. However, few vendors have expressed a willingness to resolve the largest issue that exists with regards to EHRs: the issue of interoperability.

While patient information held within EHR systems can be easily accessed by all providers using that system, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible for a provider utilising a different EHR system to access that same data, which introduces the potential for errors to be made in a patient’s care.

Vendor lock-in and high investment requirements are therefore the most prevalent issues for healthcare providers in adopting smart hospital services. At a time when healthcare industries are still feeling the impacts of the global pandemic, the long term benefits of smart hospital services must be demonstrated to foster confidence in these services’ ability to secure a return on investment.

Our latest whitepaper, Smart Hospitals: Using Big Data to Enhance Healthcare Delivery, examines the current trends shaping the smart hospitals market, as well as identifying potential challenges and barriers to implementation.

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