What is a “smart” hospital, and what states have the most of them? Furthermore, what makes them smart?
Well, it is difficult to define exactly what a smart hospital is. A cynic might say the term is little more than a new slogan dreamed up by an enterprising marketing executive trying to figure out how to sell hospitals more information systems and gadgets. After all, people are more likely to fork over the cash if everyone else is doing it.
Some have defined the categories of technology that make up a smart hospital.
The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Although no one as of yet is evaluating hospitals based on how many doctors are being replaced by AI – no one wants to endure a doctor’s strike or work slowdown as jobs are threatened – but instead, AI use is focused on reading images or monitoring the dozens of signals that may be coming from a patient wired up with Internet-of-Things (IOTs) sensing devices. And there may be many patients who simply need someone to talk to, an AI programmed to care and remember things.
Robotics are being leveraged not only for surgery, but for handling certain things such as pulling pills from the stock and working in the laboratory. Many are looking at use of robots to help move patients around or perform other tasks in the hospital, such as serving meals, talking with patients, and perhaps keeping them clean.
The taking, storing, moving around, accessing, and analyzing of what can be seen inside the patient, including the use of virtual reality to help guide surgery and other invasive procedures, is becoming more widespread.
This refers to using computers to record and process more and more details of each transaction that occurs with the patient (and with everyone else also), including insurance providers, the government, and the deadening hands of its regulatory authorities. This also has grown to include suppliers, including pharmaceutical companies, and partner healthcare providers, even with families.
Then there is telemedicine, the technologically obvious application of information technology that somehow remained something that few insurance providers would pay for until after the COVID-19 disaster – and now the temporary has become widely accepted.
These categories are not evenly distributed in smart hospitals. For example, being a leader in electronic functionalities is twice as common of an indicator of a smart hospital as is AI. Digital imaging is in second place. Robotics and telemedicine are a little less common.
AI stands out at Mayo Clinic Rochester, the Cleveland Clinic, Mount Sinai in New York, the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden, and Houston Methodist.
And where are the smart hospitals of the world?
It seems that the United States is the leader, with almost five times as many smart hospitals than Germany, in second place, along with the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Switzerland, and Spain. Singapore has seven smart hospitals, which per capita may be the most in the world.
There is a bright future for the smart hospital. Of course, vendors will profit handsomely, selling their gadgets and complex systems development and integration services, but it is the patients who might benefit most.