Patient-Centricity, Integration: Essential for Smart Hospitals
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Patient-Centricity, Integration: Essential for Smart Hospitals

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Antonio Gozain By Antonio Gozain | Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst - Wed, 02/15/2023 - 11:57

Smart hospitals are the future of healthcare. They integrate technology, data and automation to generate operational efficiency, better healthcare and cost reduction. However, to be truly smart, the hospital needs to be part of an interconnected ecosystem that involves all players, including patients, agree industry experts.

“A smart hospital is more efficient and intelligent. To be smart, hospitals must be connected and focus on patient experience. Smart hospitals are an ecosystem in which everyone has a role to play,” says Sonia López, General Director, Pan-American Clinical Research.

To offer innovative and efficient services, smart hospitals rely on hospital management and patient care through digital platforms. They also invest in technologies such as augmented reality and AI. Including these technologies in healthcare is becoming increasingly essential, as they could help reduce annual national healthcare expenditures by over 10%. By measuring indicators based on data, smart hospitals can also influence the creation of medical value.

While the Mexican healthcare system is far from achieving interconnectivity, the technology behind smart hospitals already exists, says Luisa Suárez, CEO, Vitalmex. "The use of data and automation to drive operational efficiency, improve healthcare outcomes and reduce costs is already a reality. Interconnectivity and improved communication have transformed healthcare into an ecosystem where hospitals are no longer the sole provider of care, but rather a part of an interconnected network," says Suárez.

Above all, smart hospitals improve experience by increasing patient autonomy, enabling telemedicine and increasing the quality of information generated, reports Intel. The focus should be shifted toward prevention rather than treatment, and a smart hospital can make this a reality, says López. “Telemedicine is an integral part of a smart hospital,” she says and adds that this kind of technology enables better patient monitoring.

Health professionals also benefit from the transition to smart hospitals. Physicians with more time will be able to provide more humane, quality care to patients, improving their experience.

"A smart hospital is designed to enhance the patient experience by automating processes, freeing up medical personnel to provide more personalized and emotionally supportive care. By integrating technology and automation, doctors can improve the overall quality of care that patients receive,” says Suárez.

Smart hospitals must be resilient, sustainable and intelligent, says López. “These hospitals must be interconnected, enable electronic medical records, traceability of supplies and medicines and provide effective medical care,” she adds. According to PAHO, although the smart hospital concept is yet to be fully implemented in Latin America, several countries are deploying it in the region.

Hospitals must have resiliency, which implies a safe and secure environment. This can be achieved through measures such as sound roofing and foundation, improved security and signage, secured equipment and fuel storage and protected and efficient doors and windows, among other strategies. Secondly, hospitals must be sustainable, which means they must operate ways that reduce downtime and operating costs, according to PAHO. Finally, hospitals must aim to become green, through water optimization and other initiatives, says the organization.

While technology and automation may improve patient experience in a hospital, a patient-centric approach is the foundation of smart hospitals, says Juana Ramírez, Founder and CEO, Grupo SOHIN. Most important is to put the patient at the center, understanding their environment and making a plan leveraging technology, she says. “An accompanied patient costs 35% less to the system. It is not only the right thing to do, putting the patient in the center is also good business,” she adds.

By 2029, the smart hospital market is expected to be valued at US$147.5 billion, as reported by GlobeNewswire. However, this trend is spreading unevenly across countries. “Mexico has a great need to digitize operations within hospitals. In the country, it is common to use pencil and paper to track patient records or appointments. This occurs even in large hospitals that attend up to 400 patients a day. The country's technological infrastructure needs improvement, but some hospitals are more sophisticated than others,” Felipe Rodríguez, CEO,, tells MBN.

Some consider that Mexico’s hospital automation is progressing slowly but technology is not the real issue delaying the implementation of smart hospitals, says Javier Potes, General Director, Consorcio Mexicano de Hospitales (CMH). “First, the patient must be placed at the center. This means shifting the current focus of the healthcare model. Then, financing is essential to enable smart hospitals. The health financing system is the most important factor. The main keys to success are patient-centric approach, coordination, financing and technology.”

Financing and overall spending are crucial issues, agrees Javier Marín, Senior Director Healthcare Americas, Llorente y Cuenca. Investing in health prevention will create a more informed patient, who can undergo regular check-ups and end up arriving “less sick” to the hospital, resulting in lower costs, says Marín.

Technology continues advancing and permeating all industries and the healthcare sector is no exception. With priorities well aligned, the Mexican healthcare industry must continue moving toward digitization and automation, with a patient-centric approach, says Suárez: “Our top priority should be to place the patient at the center of everything we do, including how we collect and use data to serve both the patient and the healthcare system as a whole."

Photo by:   MBP

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