Digitalised hospitals are judged to hold the highest potential for "rapid positive impact" on pressurised healthcare infrastructures and operations.
Smart hospitals have been identified as one of the top three priority investment areas for digital transformation in UK healthcare, new research finds.
Around the world, many countries are facing a shortage of healthcare professionals and the mounting burden typically impacts hospitals the most.
According to a report from Siemens Financial Services (SFS), digital transformation is helping to ease this pressure by creating ‘smart’ hospitals that themselves link into ‘smart’ healthcare systems.
Specialist management consultants, academic commentators, national health departments, medical associations and acute care organisations/groups were interviewed to identify the areas in which they see the greatest and quickest value will come from digitalisation in healthcare.
Based on their responses, smart, digitalised hospitals is one of the top three enabling technology investment areas which participants judged to hold the highest potential for rapid positive impact on pressurised healthcare infrastructures and operations.
The other two key areas of digital transformation are remote access and communications platforms (telemedicine) and new generation diagnostics (digitalised and/or mobile).
For instance, digitalised asset tracking makes sure the right equipment and technology are in the right place at the right time. Similarly, predictive maintenance uses digital data from physical equipment to spot warning signs of problems before they occur, helping healthcare facilities keep precious technology and facilities available when they are needed.
This standardisation of care has considerably improved clinical outcomes, with smart hospitals experiencing lower readmission rates for patients.
On a larger scale, buildings intelligence uses digital sensors to improve a hospital’s security, safety and energy efficiency – the latter often delivering savings which help subsidise the cost of the smart hospital conversion.
Other smart hospital applications include: artificial intelligence (AI) to shorten examination times and improve radiographer productivity; computer-aided surgery to lengthen the effective time that the beneficial effects of surgery will last for the patient; and digital pharmacy automation to avoid medication errors or duplicate prescriptions.
This standardisation of care has considerably improved clinical outcomes, with smart hospitals experiencing lower readmission rates for patients, notes SFS.
SFS’ research conservatively estimates the “investment challenge” in the UK for the top investment areas to be significant, with smart, digitalised hospitals alone requiring a £1.3bn investment in the UK across the five-year period 2019-2023.
Most respondents to this study remarked on the importance of being able to acquire state-of-the-art technology without the need to devote scarce capital. Healthcare institutions are, therefore, increasing their deployment of “pay for usage” arrangements – usually based on some form of leasing structure.
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