Hospital Room of the Future: IoT in Everyday Healthcare

by Eladio Alvarez, Head of Healthcare Solutions and Business Development, EPAM

February 7, 2017

Imagine: You’ve just been admitted to the hospital for a medical condition. You are nervous and unsure of what’s to come. Your top priority is becoming healthy as soon as possible. Hospitals make patients anxious because they are not in control of the environment – rather, they feel like hospitals are in control of them and directly impact their ability to get better. Long wait times, inattentive staff, records processing delays, and the gathering of health information can all significantly delay the administration of care.

With the rising integration of IoT technology into everyday life, we could see a drastic improvement in hospital care. The Internet of Things puts the power back in the patient’s hands while enabling doctors and providers to deliver the most effective care possible. By increasing transparency and allowing patients to control environmental conditions, patients can be at ease knowing that they are getting the best care possible. Doctors can gain clearer insights by the aggregation of patient data throughout the stay, deliver a more nuanced and specialized care plan, and ensure patients leave equipped to follow through with prescribed health regimens.

A New Patient Journey

Here’s how the hospital room of the future might look in a few years:

Waiting Room

Here, the continuous patient monitoring begins. Patients can check in and submit preliminary health information entirely through their mobile device. The information is directly sent to a preliminary digital triage system and patients can see their exact waiting times on their mobile device.

Vital Signs

Many patients feel scared and/or anxious when they visit the hospital. In the future hospital room, the patient is never in the dark when it comes to understanding their health information. As vitals are taken by a nurse, the machines send the information to a patient’s mobile device. They can view this information in real time with VR- and AR-enabled technologies for patients to visually understand what this data means to them. Meanwhile, this information becomes part of the patient’s digital visit report, constantly aggregating information as the visit goes on for both the physician and patient’s benefit.

Hospital Room

Patients will no longer be alarmed by all of that beeping. Digital dashboards will provide patients with up-to-the-second information on their health status. To ease patient anxiety, expected wait times to see a doctor or nurse will be displayed. When a patient calls a nurse, they can track the geolocation of the nurse inside the hospital and know that someone is on the way. As doctors provide the patient with medical care, they can track specific actions through a tablet and add notes. When the doctor is finished administering care, the patient can retrieve his/her exact care instructions through the same mobile app. The doctor or nurse can activate medication reminders, right from the hospital room, and send directly to the patient’s mobile device, smart watch, email, etc.

In between doctor and nurse visits, patients will have the ability to control a variety of physical conditions in their room, including temperature, light, and noise, as well as have access to an entire infotainment system and meal options on their mobile device. These simple additions to a hospital room could help patients feel more comfortable.

Discharge

The patient will not need to fill out additional paperwork. Patients will receive a full summary of their visit via email. They will be able to retrieve this information through their mobile device at any time. Any prescriptions that can be filled at the hospital will be done so through the mobile device and can be picked up on the way out.  Integration with smart prescribing systems will significantly decrease the likelihood of an adverse drug event. After the stress of a patient’s hospital stay, often it’s difficult to remember discharge instructions from the physician. Patients will have access to recommended activity, prescription reminders, physical therapy, and follow-up appointments. If the patient has a question for their doctor, they no longer need to wait for their check-up or attempt to call a large healthcare system to reach their voicemail. Instead, the patient can simply send an instant message to the caregiver, enabling real-time communication for medical purposes.