New breakthroughs in medicine are enabling innovative technologies to discover drugs more efficiently, analyse medical images faster and make surgery safer and more precise.
As these technologies advance, our collective vision for the future of healthcare edges closer to reality.
But we aren’t there yet.
To deliver this vision and unlock the next era of healthcare, increased investment in new-age hospitals that meet the needs or providers, clinicians and patients is needed.
Securing the improved healthcare experience all patients deserve is dependent on more hospitals becoming truly ‘smart’.
New-Age Tech for a New-Age Experience
Hospitals run on data. Much of that data that was once stored on paper, but it has now been mostly digitised.
This allows for insights to be extracted through the application of digital analytics and AI.
It is these tools that define smart hospitals.
While a traditional hospital uses analogue radiology tools, smart hospitals have raced ahead using Digital CT, MRI scanners and software such as the PACS medical imaging storage systems.
Thanks to these technologies, smart hospitals don’t just collect and hoard data, they analyse and turn it into valuable insights.
Having this enables healthcare providers to deliver a patient-focused experience through sensors that monitor patient safety, AI algorithms that determine the severity of patient’s cases, and telehealth solutions.
Smart technology can also help optimise operational efficiencies for healthcare providers who might operate with limited resources.
As a result, clinicians are freed to spend more of their attention caring for patients.
AI algorithms can handle tasks such as taking notes during patient interactions, segmenting anatomical structures in MRI scans and identifying medical codes for insurance billing.
As smart hospital technology continues to raise the standard of high-quality care and improves the efficiency of operations, it is clear how each improvement remains patient-focused.
A crucial benefit, particularly in today’s healthcare landscape, is that smart hospitals are less prone to being overwhelmed in busy situations.
Whereas clinicians might miss an alarm in a traditional hospital’s ICU on a busier day, a smart hospital utilises an AI algorithm which can analyse monitoring device data in real time to determine whether the signal from the device requires the attention of staff.
The Houston Methodist Institute for Academic Medicine has already deployed an AI-based tool called DeepStroke than can help such situations.
Their work with Mark III systems takes data on a patient’s speech and facial movements to detect stroke symptoms more accurately in triage so stroke patients are less likely to go unnoticed on a busy day.
Another example, Artsight, helps improve patient care in three distinct ways.
Through a network of over 2,000 cameras and microphones at Northwestern Medicine, one Artsight AI model can alert clinicians to patients at risk of harm, another can automate workflows, while a third model can detect significant events before, during and after surgery to coordinate surgical throughput.
The potential goes beyond operational improvements, with AI holding further promise in treatment and diagnosis.
Smart hospitals are making the process of medical imaging more efficient than ever by applying processes such as deep learning.
Deep learning is perfectly suited for radiology applications because it is often used as a tool for identifying objects in images.
Where AI helps radiologists is by screening medicals scans and flagging areas that require the practitioner’s attention before they take their first look.
Going further, AI is also helping radiologists prioritise their worklist, moving more critical cases to the top and reducing the time to diagnose and treat life threatening cases, while also enhancing the resolution of radiology images.
This allows patient scans to be performed at lower dosages.
For example, Siemens Healthineers created deep learning-based solutions that enable precise contouring of organs at risk in radiation therapy, ultimately streamlining the treatment process.
As another example, Fujifilm Healthcare are making great strides with its Cardio StillShot software, which can capture more precise cardiac imaging at any heart rate during a CT scan.
The operating theatre is no stranger to AI in smart hospitals. Some are deploying intelligent video analytics and robotics to provide AI-powered alerts and guidance to surgeons.
Take Activ Surgical as an example, who designs surgical solutions.
Its ActivSight technology uses augmented reality to allow surgeons to see critical structures and functions in the body in real time, including blood flow, which cannot been seen with just the naked eye.
Smart Hospitals at Home
The borders of the smart hospital go beyond its bricks and mortar.
Tools such as AI chatbots, wearables, apps, video appointments and phone-based messaging tools help take the burden off healthcare facilities that are often overloaded.
Not every patient needs to be treated in the hospital setting.
Companies like Curai make use of natural language processing AI to power intelligent voice assistants and chatbots that can assist patients at home.
Patients input information about their conditions, access their medicals profiles and provers 24/7 whole also viewing diagnostic and treatment suggestions based on Curai’s deep learning algorithms.
Reaching new frontiers in healthcare
Across the world, smart hospital technology is revolutionising the healthcare landscape.
With continued investment in these tools, we are realising a future where every patient around the world can expect the highest standard quality of care – be it from an operating room or their own homes.
Craig Rhodes is EMEA Industry Lead, AI for Healthcare and Life Sciences at Nvidia
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