In this age of technology, we see smart phones, smart televisions and even smart watches. So, what makes a smart phone smart? According to me, by not sticking to its definition of being just a communication device, it is its ability to multi-task, aesthetics, sound features, performance, and efficiency of functioning and reliability that makes it smart. For instance, making payments via applications, getting its receipt on email, and giving the provision to forward this receipt on a messaging platform are smart functions. And this smartness as compared to a regular dial pad phone determines its preference in the market.
Similarly, the “Smart Hospital” concept is also coming up. A hospital that works efficiently, has a smooth patient-centric workflow, provides value-added services and in turn gives great patient experience is smart, and in turn reliable.
The healthcare sector in India is undergoing major changes with various policies and regulations being introduced. Due to this, hospitals are under pressure to overcome costs on one hand and to deliver affordable healthcare on the other. A smart hospital can easily adapt to these changes and find techniques in which issues can be resolved. As a hospital consultant, here are my suggested views that will help you in transforming your hospital into a smart hospital.
- Information technology (IT) and artificial intelligence (AI) are impacting every industry in a great manner. Although most hospitals have already accepted IT solutions in their operations, there are always a handful who resist to accept change.
i. Operations management can benefit greatly by using software tools for identifying root causes for substandard hospital performance and assist in better financial control, asset tracking and smoothen processes.
ii. Digitizing the hospital will allow not just data capture, but also easy retrievals of the data. Although data collection is being done since years, having homogeneity in data capturing across all departments is important. This has many advantages, as doctors are able to access the patient history, feed in the progressive treatment, alert the pharmacy, and notify diagnostics for incoming tests. On the other hand, patients need not worry about loss of reports/ prescriptions as the digital copies can be shared through emails. Moreover, this collected data, once organized well, can help the hospital optimize its processes, identify disease patterns and demand of particular services, identify poor performing services, etc.
- Today, patients have become more informed that they demand a particular level of technology and service at low costs. This makes it difficult for the hospital due to its increasing costs. In order to reduce the impact, a smart hospital can identify ways of cost optimization without impacting patient care. For e.g. by harnessing natural light, installing solar panels, use LED lights instead of CFL bulbs, electricity expenses can be reduced.
- Smart infrastructure designs aid in proficient interconnection of departments. Smart designs allow you to transform spaces into specialty-wise hubs or even hybrid spaces giving flexibility of redesigning in future. These designs consider effortless patient as well as the staff movements. With medical planners on board right from the design phase will increase efficiency and avoid unforeseen costs.
- Excellent communication is key to being a smart hospital. The quality of care received by the patient is dependent greatly on the communications they’ve had with the doctors and the staff. There is huge arsenal of staff that are dedicated in serving the patient. The communication barriers of any kind can be eliminated by giving training to the staff. Thus, all forms of communication with the patient as well as inter and intra departmental communication and organizational communication is of essence.
- A smart hospital understands the importance of maintaining good patient relationship. Various online portals for appointment scheduling, checking report status, requesting IPD admission, etc. can be provided. Setting up kiosks near the reception/ waiting area will also reduce the queues. Sending newsletters and asking for feedbacks gives the patient a sense of consideration.
Harnessing the advancement in technology, optimizing IT for time-consuming work, streamlining processes and increasing communication will enable your hospital to be a smart hospital. Acceptance is the beginning to change.