Smart hospitals have become increasingly exciting over the pandemic, promising to offer an increased standard of care by using cutting-edge technology. However, the implementation of smart hospitals will require significant cooperation and investment from stakeholders.
The idea of a smart hospital has been increasingly discussed in recent months due to a combination of new technologies such as the release of 5G networks and the Covid-19 pandemic highlighting the need for telehealth and other connected solutions. At its core, a smart hospital is an interconnected one, where patient health metrics, test results and other data are quickly and easily accessible by physicians who have access to state-of-the-art technology to better act on those data.
Smart hospitals will increasingly incorporate advanced technologies like the use of robots in a variety of roles across the hospital. This may include delivery robots to move medication and medical devices around, robots that can assist doctors and nurses in moving patients and especially surgical robots that assist physicians or even perform procedures on their own. All of this will allow patients to receive faster and safer care during their hospital stay.
Of course, the backbone of the smart hospital will be its network infrastructure. These hospitals will need robust intrahospital networks to be able to quickly get, transfer and deliver data between devices and departments, as needed. Intrahospital networks will also need to be robust enough to support a variety of medical devices, ranging from on-patient sensors to magnetic resonance imaging scanners, which will need to be constantly connected. 5G has the potential to solve these problems while potentially also allowing fast interhospital connections. These can then be used for specialist consultations for patients or physicians, further improving treatment efficiency.
The technology required for enabling smart hospitals is largely already available, but the implementation of this technology will require substantial investment from all stakeholders. Medical device manufacturers will need to ensure that new devices are effective and secure against cyber attacks while remaining easy to use. Hospitals will need to prioritise investing in areas that offer the most return while ensuring that their basic information technology infrastructure is sufficient and secure. Telecoms will need to invest in upgrades across their network to fully enable the potential of 5G and the smart hospital.