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What Is a Smart Hospital?


Smart hospitals - which utilize data and AI insights to facilitate decision-making at each stage of the patient experience - can provide medical professionals with insights that enable better and faster care.

A smart hospital uses data and technology to accelerate and enhance the work healthcare professionals and hospital management are already doing, such as tracking hospital bed occupancy, monitoring patients' vital signs and analyzing radiology scans.

What's the Difference Between a Smart Hospital and a Traditional Hospital? Hospitals are continuously generating and collecting data, much of which is now digitized. This creates an opportunity for them to apply such technologies as data analytics and AI for improved insights.

Data that was once stored as a paper file with a patient's medical history, lab results and immunization information is now stored as electronic health records, or EHRs. Digital CT and MRI scanners, as well as software including the PACS medical imaging storage system, are replacing analog radiology tools. And connected sensors in hospital rooms and operating theaters can record multiple continuous streams of data for real-time and retrospective analysis.

As hospitals transition to these digital tools, they're poised to make the shift from a regular hospital to a smart hospital - one that not only collects data, but also analyzes it to provide valuable, timely insights.

Natural language processing models can rapidly pull insights from complex pathology reports to support cancer care. Data science can monitor emergency room wait times to resolve bottlenecks. AI-enabled robotics can assist surgeons in the operating room. And video analytics can detect when hand sanitizer supplies are running low or a patient needs attention - such as detecting the risk of falls in the hospital or at home.

What Are Some Benefits of a Smart Hospital? Smart hospital technology benefits healthcare systems, medical professionals and patients in the following ways:

Healthcare providers: Smart hospital data can be used to help healthcare facilities optimize their limited resources, increasing operational efficiency for a better patient-centric approach. Sensors can monitor patients when they're alone in the room. AI algorithms can help inform which patients should be prioritized based on the severity of their case. And telehealth solutions can help deliver care to patients outside of hospital visits.

Clinicians: Smart hospital tools can enable doctors, nurses, medical imaging technicians and other healthcare experts to spend more time focusing on patient care by taking care of routine or laborious tasks, such as writing notes about each patient interaction, segmenting anatomical structures in an MRI or converting doctor's notes into medical codes for insurance billing. They can also aid clinical decision-making with AI algorithms that provide a second opinion or triage recommendation for individual patients based on historical data.

Patients: Smart hospital technology can bring health services closer to the goal of consistent, high-quality patient care - anywhere in the world, from any doctor. Clinicians vary in skill level, areas of expertise, access to resources and time available per patient. By deploying AI and robotics to monitor patterns and automate time-consuming tasks, smart hospitals can allow clinicians to focus on interacting with their patients for a better experience.

How Can I Make My Hospital Smart? Running a smart hospital requires an entire ecosystem of hardware and software solutions working in harmony with clinician workflows. To accelerate and improve patient care, every application, device, sensor and AI model in the system must share data and insights across the institution.

Think of the smart hospital as an octopus. Its head is the organization's secure server that stores and processes the entire facility's data. Each of its tentacles is a different department - emergency room, ICU, operating room, radiology lab - covered in sensors (octopus suckers) that take in data from their surroundings.

If each tentacle operated in a silo, it would be impossible for the octopus to take rapid action across its entire body based on the information sensed by a single arm. Every tentacle sends data back to the octopus' central brain, enabling the creature to flexibly respond to its changing environment.

In the same way, the smart hospital is a hub-and-spoke model, with sensors distributed across a facility that can send critical insights back to a central brain, helping inform facility-wide decisions. For instance, if camera feeds in an operating room show that a surgical procedure is almost complete, AI would alert staff in the recovery room to be ready for the patient's arrival.

To power smart hospital solutions, medical device companies, academic medical centers and startups are turning to NVIDIA Clara, an end-to-end AI platform that integrates with the entire hospital network - from medical devices running real-time applications to secure servers that store and process data in the long term. It supports edge, data center and cloud infrastructure, numerous software libraries, and a global partner ecosystem to power the coming generation of smart hospitals.

Smart Hospital Operations and Patient Monitoring A bustling hospital has innumerable moving parts - patients, staff, medicine and equipment - presenting an opportunity for AI automation to optimize operations around the facility.

While a doctor or nurse can't be at a patient's side at every moment of their hospital stay, a combination of intelligent video analytics and other smart sensors can closely monitor patients, alerting healthcare providers when the person is in distress and needs attention.

In an ICU, for instance, patients are connected to monitoring de
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