16 September 2021

Lessons from COVID-19: Time for a Smarter Hospital

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Last year, Italy experienced a massive coronavirus wave, collapsing its healthcare system. Prior to the outbreak, the nation’s healthcare system had experienced years of budget cuts, with 8.6 available ICU beds per 100,000 people. This year, a similar case is occurring in India. With only 3.6% GDP spent on healthcare, there’s only 1 doctor per 1,445 people in the nation. Both nations have people dying without getting a treatment outside the hospital because the system is unprepared.


Looking at the two cases, it’s true that there’s a lot of things about healthcare that should be fixed. But one of the most important lessons that Indonesia can learn from Italy and India’s story is that we need to better prepare our healthcare system. And while there’s a lot to improve in our healthcare system, technological upgrade is an often overlooked, yet crucial aspect for our hospitals. It is time for us to create and develop smart hospitals to combat the ongoing pandemic.


What is a smart hospital?

Smart hospitals are hospitals equipped with optimized infrastructure, process, and systems. These optimizations are mostly sustained by good utilization of proper, up-to-date technology, which would not only make the hospitals look cool, but also make a lot of things more efficient. In other words, smart hospitals are the best version of hospitals in which both patients and healthcare workers alike can get the best experience, thanks to technological assistance.


As technological advancement keeps on progressing rapidly while the COVID-19 pandemic urges innovation in healthcare, the implementation of smart hospitals has reached developing areas such as Southeast Asian countries. Indonesian CekMata uses machine learning to detect signs of cataract. Lifetrack Medical Systems is also using AI to track possible COVID-19 cases in the Philippines. Singapore plans to use smart wards with artificial brain and assistive robots.


Technology in A Smart Hospital: Some Possibilities

From data organization to better customer experience, smart hospitals have a lot of things that can make a patient’s experience much better. There’s a myriad of possibilities of technological implementations in a smart hospital. Here’s a few of them:


1. IoT and Equipment Management

When a crisis occurs, keeping track of medical equipment becomes crucial. Bluetooth-equipped or machine-tagged equipment can make it easier for medical professionals to know the available stock in real time. In a COVID-19 context, IoT can help medical professionals to identify which equipment need to be sanitized and which ones are ready to use. Additionally, monitoring staff deployment can also be made easier with the use of IoT in a smart hospital.


2. Machine Learning and Early Detection

AI and machine learning have been utilized to detect symptoms of so many severe diseases such as cancer, cataract, and tumors. Combined with the skills of a human medical professional, Harvard’s AI detection success rate can go as high as 99.5%. Scientists are currently exploring the possibilities of machine learning for early detection of COVID-19 from Chest X-Ray images. If this succeeds, smart hospitals will be able to detect and treat COVID-19 patients more efficiently.


3. SMS A2P and More Organized Booking

The unfortunate cases of hospitals overrun by patients in both Italy and India can be a valuable lesson for other countries. More organized patient flow can prevent such case from happening, and this can be assisted by technological uses such as app booking and SMS A2P. In-app messages and SMS A2P can also give step-by-step directions for little things from parking to the hospital beds so that admission can be much quicker. These technologies can also verify patient data more efficiently.


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