Technology has done wonders when it comes to making things more convenient. Smart devices exist for most aspects of life such as our phones, our refrigerators, and even our cars. Healthcare is beginning to take advantage of these smart technologies as well, especially in hospitals. Many hospitals are trying to find ways they can implement more patient-centric technology in hospital rooms in order to improve the patient experience before, during and after their stay. Patient rooms that have begun to utilize technology in order to improve the patient experience are more commonly referred to as “smart rooms”. While “smart” anything has become a bit overused, the ways they improve the patient experience are actually much simpler than you’d think.
Smart hospital rooms will be set up differently in every institution, but they all serve the same purpose—using technology to make the patient experience seamless, improve communication and streamline clinical workflows. Tablets such as Apple iPads have become commonplace in a lot of these smart rooms and are used in multiple ways, from simple tasks such as giving patients control of their television, room lights, and HVAC to tasks that help give patients a better knowledge of their health, physicians, and giving them easier access to their medical records. For example, providers are able to use tablets to pull up the EHR on the room’s television in order for both the patient and the provider to go over it together. If the patient is a child, providers can allow them to watch television on their tablets while discussing the child’s charts with their parents.
Another way smart tech is being used in hospital rooms is to help patients on the road to discharge. Many patients hate being in the hospital and want to know what can be done to get them healthy and on their way out as soon as possible. With smart tech, providers can utilize digital displays that can help patients visualize the step by step process to working towards hospital discharge. Those goals and the instructions to reach them can easily continue once patients have been discharged through easy to access patient portals.
While smart tech can and has done wonders for patients, the most important aspect of care is making sure the patient is at the center of it. Technology can do amazing things, but it’s important that it’s used as an accessory in the experience as opposed to completely replacing the human side of things. The implementation of a lot of these smart devices helps automates certain processes, which allows providers to focus more on the human aspect of healthcare. Patients want to feel heard and cared for, and in many cases, providers would sit in front of a small computer screen that was physically far from patients, often with their backs turned. Using smart technology – such as a TV that can be a focal point for everyone in the room – can help bring everyone together and avoid having technology disrupt provider workflows.