Smart Hospitals in 2024: The Future of Care Provision

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The healthcare industry is experiencing a major transformation with the advent of smart hospitals that use the latest technologies to improve patient care and hospital operations.

A smart hospital integrates artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and telemedicine to operate more efficiently and enhance patient satisfaction and the overall hospital experience.

In this article, we identified the major benefits and challenges of implementing smart hospital solutions and asked experts what it takes to transform a traditional hospital into a smart one.

Key Takeaways

  • A smart hospital integrates advanced technologies to improve patient care, operate more efficiently, and enhance patient satisfaction.
  • Key features of smart hospitals include interconnected medical devices, electronic health records, predictive analytics, and remote monitoring systems.
  • The smart hospital market size is estimated to be worth $60.35 billion in 2024 and is expected to reach $148.36 billion by 2029.
  • The adoption of smart hospitals is continuously growing as there is an increased demand for high-quality, personalized care and real-time health monitoring.

The Future of Hospitals Is Smart

Key features of smart hospitals include interconnected medical devices, electronic health records (EHR), predictive analytics, and remote monitoring systems.

These technologies facilitate real-time patient health monitoring, enhance resource allocation, enable more accurate diagnoses, and improve the accuracy and efficiency of the overall provision of care.

Smart Hospital Architecture

The smart hospitals market is estimated at $60.35 billion in 2024 and is expected to reach $148.36 billion by 2029.

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The market is continuing to grow as there’s an increased demand for high-quality, personalized care and real-time health monitoring, driven in part by an aging population and the need to better manage chronic diseases.

The most advanced hospital in the world is the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, which is well-known for its innovative and holistic healthcare. The Mayo Clinic is recognized for its technology, research, and treatment in a variety of medical fields.

In a recent episode of CXOTalk, Dr. John Halamka, President of the Mayo Clinic Platform, discussed the intersection of health, data platforms, and AI. He emphasized the need for rapid innovation in healthcare, proposing a model to curate global data ethically and securely.

Halamka’s team aims to create a federated, distributed data network that respects data sovereignty and privacy, enabling the development of reliable and diverse AI models.

The expert highlighted that ethical considerations in AI are paramount, especially in healthcare. AI should augment human decision-making rather than replace it. He said:

“AI should be an augmentation to human decision-making. It should be like the smart medical student is providing you with a review of the research and suggesting that there are some things to look at or test. But a doctor should never delegate decision-making to an AI. In fact, if a doctor delegates decision-making to AI, the doctor is responsible for any bad result.”

New Smart Hospital Coming to Cypress, Texas

When Houston Methodist Cypress Hospital in Cypress, Texas, opens in the first quarter of 2025, it will feature the latest technology for its patients, says Trent Fulin, senior vice president and chief executive officer. It will incorporate the latest in digital healthcare innovation that will enable the hospital to create a patient-centered building built for the future of medicine.

“Houston Methodist Cypress Hospital is especially unique, even within Houston Methodist, because we are building all the innovation projects being piloted throughout the system, as well as brand new technologies, into this campus,” Fulin says.

For example, patients will be greeted in their rooms with an interactive TV where they can monitor their health updates, video chat with loved ones, select their meals, and, of course, browse various entertainment options, he explains.

“Our inpatient rooms will have voice-control capabilities with a variety of uses, from changing the temperature in the patient room and even calling the patient’s nurse for assistance,” Fulin says. “We will also have the latest diagnostic and imaging equipment, enabling us to detect, identify and treat disease earlier and more effectively.”

Innovation is also bringing quality and safety benefits to this campus, according to Fulin.

“With new monitoring technologies, we can predict and prevent adverse health events in the hospital before they occur,” he says.

Benefits of Smart Hospitals

Smart hospitals aim to streamline operations, improve patient outcomes, and cut healthcare costs through the use of smart healthcare technology.

“Smart hospitals prioritize the patient experience, streamlining processes, providing real-time information, and offering personalized care plans,” says Mark Eimer, SVP, associate CIO and chief technology officer at Hackensack Meridian Health, a network of healthcare providers.

Smart hospitals offer a range of benefits that transform healthcare delivery, including:

Enhanced Patient Care

Hospitals can offer better care by providing patients with personalized treatment plans that consider their health histories and needs, leading to better outcomes. Continuous monitoring allows for timely interventions, reducing complications and readmissions to the hospital.

Additionally, intelligent hospital systems increase access to care, particularly for remote or underserved populations, by enabling improved connectivity with healthcare professionals and specialists.

Operational Efficiency

Smart hospital technology boosts operational efficiency by automating administrative tasks, optimizing the use of resources, predicting maintenance needs, improving the movement of patients through the facility, enhancing communication, and efficiently managing energy use.

These enhancements not only cut costs, they also improve the quality of care that patients receive.

Improved Patient Experience & Engagement

Smart healthcare technology lets patients access their health information and communicate with their healthcare providers directly. Smart hospitals also create comfortable, patient-centered care environments that boost patient satisfaction when they’re in the hospital.

Additionally, real-time feedback systems let healthcare providers promptly address patient concerns.

Cost Reduction

Efficient management and automation lower operational expenses, such as administrative and labor costs. Shorter hospital stays, resulting from faster recoveries and more effective treatments, also reduce costs for hospitals and patients.

Focusing on preventive care through early detection and intervention prevents serious health issues and reduces the need for expensive treatments.

Advancements in Clinical & Research Capabilities

Because healthcare providers can access comprehensive patient data, they can make clinical decisions based on accurate information. Enhanced data collection and analysis support medical research, speeding the development of new treatments.

Positive Environmental Impact

Sustainable operations and using resources efficiently help reduce hospitals’ environmental impacts. Using energy wisely saves money, supports sustainability efforts, and aligns healthcare with broader environmental goals.

Examples of Smart Hospital Technologies

Smart hospital technologies encompass a wide range of innovations aimed at improving patient care, enhancing operational efficiency, and providing better healthcare outcomes.

Some examples of smart hospital technologies include:

Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
EHR systems replace paper-based records with digital files that include patient demographics, medical history, medications, lab results, and treatment plans. They facilitate real-time access to patient information by authorized healthcare providers, who can then deliver coordinated and efficient care.

Telemedicine
With telemedicine, healthcare providers use telecommunications technology to diagnose, consult, and treat patients remotely. It’s particularly valuable for people in remote or rural areas who face challenges in reaching specialists. Telemedicine platforms use secure messaging, video conferencing, and other virtual communication tools.

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
These systems use wearable devices, sensors, and mobile apps to consistently track patients’ vital signs, activity levels, and health metrics outside traditional healthcare environments. This technology enables healthcare providers to quickly detect any issues with their patients so they can respond promptly and, if necessary, modify their personalized treatment plans using real-time data.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
AI and ML algorithms analyze extensive healthcare data to detect patterns, forecast outcomes, and produce insights crucial for clinical decision-making. These algorithms help interpret medical imaging by identifying abnormalities, segmenting organs, and prioritizing cases for radiologists.

Robotics
Robots are used for tasks such as surgical procedures, delivering medication, and disinfecting hospital rooms. Surgical robots allow surgeons to perform minimally invasive procedures with more accuracy, resulting in reduced trauma to the body, quicker recovery times, and fewer complications than traditional open surgeries.
Smart rooms
Smart rooms in hospitals integrate advanced technologies to improve patient care, comfort, and safety. These rooms are equipped with various sensors, devices, and communication systems that collect real-time data and automate processes to optimize healthcare delivery. Smart room technology in hospitals may feature IoT-enabled medical devices to monitor patient vital signs and interactive displays for patient education and entertainment.
Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT devices communicate with each other to make hospital operations more efficient. IoT devices used in healthcare include interconnected medical devices, such as glucose monitors and blood pressure cuffs, implantable sensors that wirelessly gather and transmit patient data, and smart beds. The benefits of smart beds in hospitals include adjusting automatically to ensure patients are comfortable, monitoring patient vital signs in real-time, and integrating with hospital systems for streamlined data collection and analysis.
Predictive analytics
Predictive analytics models analyze past and present healthcare data to identify high-risk individuals and predict patient outcomes. These models enable hospitals to anticipate service demand, predict patient admissions and readmissions, and allocate resources, such as staff, beds, and medications, more effectively.

“These technologies are revolutionizing the way we deliver care, placing patients at the center of the experience and empowering them to take an active role in their health,” says Eimer.

Building a Smart Hospital: Where to Start?

What does it take to transform a traditional hospital into a smart hospital?

“Healthcare organizations should prioritize the value to their patients and personnel, not the advanced technologies per se when aiming to make their hospitals smart,” said Sergey Ivanov, Head of Healthcare Center of Excellence at Itransition.

“When you talk to CEOs of hospital systems, do they say, ‘God, I woke up this morning, and what I needed is an algorithm.’ Never, right?” said Dr. John Halamka of Mayo Clinic.

“What they say is, ‘My margins are negative, my staff is hard to recruit and retain, and everyone’s burned out.’ So, you say, ‘Oh, well, if those are your three critical business problems, what if there was technology that could help you with those business problems?”

Sergey Ivanov added:

“First, decision-makers must determine which workflows to change to achieve better, more personalized, and timely patient care and improve medical personnel’s safety and job satisfaction. Only after that, they can choose the right innovative technologies to help transform and streamline these workflows.”

So, what are the initial steps healthcare organizations undertake to transform traditional processes and implement ‘smart’ technologies? Ivanov continued:

  1. First of all, healthcare organizations need to partner with expert consultants to analyze their business and clinical workflows and identify priorities for smart hospital transformation.
  2. Then, they need to assess the organization’s network capacity, as well as the quantity and quality of the organization’s hardware, software, and other resources. This step is vital to determine if the organization can implement new technologies and workflows right away or if any changes to the IT infrastructure are needed first.
  3. From there on, healthcare organizations can create a detailed transformation plan: define the project’s scope, select the technical stack, and work out an implementation strategy that ensures the hospital’s processes’ continuity.

Major Challenges of Smart Hospital Adoption

The challenges of smart hospital adoption are closely connected to the overall challenges the healthcare industry is facing, according to Ivanov.

The medical personnel shortages worldwide mean that the hospital staff is overworked and reluctant to embrace innovation as it requires time and effort from them.

Another problem is achieving interoperability since hospitals typically use legacy systems that aren’t compatible with innovative technologies.

“Thus, transforming a traditional hospital into a smart one often requires revamping the entire IT ecosystem, which is costly.”

Last but not least, network connectivity isn’t sufficient to support smart technologies in many geographical regions, limiting hospitals’ opportunities.

The Bottom Line

Smart hospitals represent an innovative leap in healthcare, leveraging advanced technologies such as AI, IoT, and robotics to enhance the efficiency and quality of care. Smart hospitals not only streamline operations, they also substantially improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.

“The smart hospital is not just a futuristic vision; it is a reality that is transforming healthcare today,” says Eimer. “By embracing these technologies, we can create a healthcare system that is more patient-centric, data-driven, collaborative, and innovative, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes and a healthier future.”

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Linda Rosencrance
Technology journalist
Linda Rosencrance
Technology journalist

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer and editor based in the Boston area, with expertise ranging from AI and machine learning to cybersecurity and DevOps. She has been covering IT topics since 1999 as an investigative reporter working for several newspapers in the Boston metro area. Before joining Techopedia in 2022, her articles have appeared in TechTarget, MSDynamicsworld.com, TechBeacon, IoT World Today, Computerworld, CIO magazine, and many other publications. She also writes white papers, case studies, ebooks, and blog posts for many corporate clients, interviewing key players, including CIOs, CISOs, and other C-suite execs.