Healthcare Improves as Hospitals Become Smarter
With the COVID-19 pandemic and Mpox outbreak still going and new diseases threatening global populations, hospitals are leveraging technology to improve the delivery of healthcare services and patients’ quality of life.
The medtech industry comprises products, services and solutions based on Industry 4.0 technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). The current goal for medical facilities is to exploit these technologies by becoming smart hospitals, leveraging Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to improve the delivery of medical services. Thanks to the implementation of new technologies, these hospitals are able to connect medical devices to AI and data analysis. This and other features allow medical facilities to improve the quality of diagnosis, increase patient safety and reduce costs.
“We have had Oracle ERP on servers and now we are migrating it to the cloud. The advantage is that you eliminate many costs because you no longer need to have servers. The cost is distributed among many players and the updates of all the systems are done automatically. Additionally, operations become much faster and more integrated and we are able to make better decisions for the care of our patients and the communities we serve,” Horacio Garza, Director General of Christus Muguerza, told MBN.
Smart hospitals can also create frictionless experiences for patients within and beyond hospital walls, with telemedicine among the main tools that make this possible. Through telemedicine, hospitals can earn additional revenue, have greater community visibility and boost staff productivity, according to Samsung. It can also avoid the need for a patient to be readmitted as hospitals can keep tabs on patients after they are discharged.
“The reality is that patients today expect customized, quality service that is not a hassle to acquire. It does not matter how we reach them; they just want their needs met,” wrote Ibar Langle, Co-Founder of Elery.com, on MBN.
Smart Hospitals at Risk
Smart hospitals are essential in the creation of a digital health ecosystem. But the more connected a hospital is, the higher the risk is for the patient’s safety. There is a large number of IoT devices in smart hospitals that make these facilities targets of cyberattacks as they generate and analyze data. “While medical staff are fighting to save patients’ lives, others are playing with these lives by making cyberattacks on research centers and health institutions,” reads a paper by Yassine Chahid, Mohammed Benabdellah and Nabil Kannouf.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in cyberattacks. In Mexico, cyberattacks multiplied by 400 in 2021 compared to 2019. “The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that healthcare systems are highly complex and, therefore, susceptible to errors,” wrote Jorge Azpiri, Director of Development and Expansion Projects for TecSalud, on MBN.
Hospitals can be victims of email phishing, ransomware attacks, data theft, and attacks against connected medical devices, among other threats. While a cyberattack against any other industry costs around US$3.86 million, an attack on the health sector costs about US$7.13 million, as reported by the IADB. Unfortunately, compared to other sectors, the health sector has the greatest lag regarding cybersecurity, as reported by Dräger.
Legislative efforts have been made in Mexico to fight against cyberattacks, strengthening the National Intelligence System, the Cyberspace Operations Center, the Cyber Defense and Cybersecurity Control Center, the National Cybersecurity Strategy and the National Digital Strategy 2021-2024. The latter promotes the implementation of the Approved Protocol for the Management of Cyber Incidents between institutions, Alejandro Preinfalk, President and CEO of Siemens, told MBN.
Aside from relying on these tools, integrating an email protection system, updating equipment, implementing a cybersecurity policy and limiting access to medical devices are some of the measures that smart hospitals can take to strengthen their cybersecurity strategies, highlights an article by Ahmed Mohammed.
Future of Smart Hospitals
The world is transitioning toward Industry 5.0, which is expected to take smart hospitals to the next level. Automation and big data will be leveraged with safety, innovative technology policies and responsible implementation science, according to an article by Vural Özdemir and Nezih Hekim. The improved use of big data in hospitals could benefit the progress of the whole sector, adds Eduardo Medeiros, Co-Founder and CEO of Welbe. “The importance of using data in the health sector is due to the fact that knowing how to collect, organize and interpret the data obtained creates opportunities for important insights into various issues in the daily life of hospitals and promotes scientific advances,” he wrote on MBN.
Also, in the future, the services provided by these facilities will continue to surpass the physical space. For example, it is expected that 40% of care providers will have shifted 20% of their hospital beds to the home, driven by remote patient monitoring and AI-enabled services, according to Philips. Clinical excellence, innovation capability, experience-centricity and operation efficiency are expected to be the four pillars of the smart hospitals of the future.
Additionally, as connectivity increases, we can expect hospitals to invest in cybersecurity upgrades, increase digital healthcare services and to continue implementing solutions based on technologies like augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). “In the coming years, the development of AI technology will keep advancing and will be applied in more and more medical fields, streamlining and improving the work of healthcare organizations and institutions,” says Carlos López Patán, CEO, Medix.