Virtual care joins the network together
Instead of being one fixed location, the hospital of the future is a network which is more scalable and modular than ever before. It’s flexible enough to deliver highly complex care to large numbers of new patients in ever-changing locations, while continuing to provide regular and elective care to the rest of the population.
Virtual care and guidance play a critical role in this network. We’ve already seen how remotely guided ICUs are helping hospitals to scale care during the crisis taking the load off frontline staff. In the near future, these tele-ICUs within larger hospitals will be connected to mobile facilities and community-based hubs by a single digital infrastructure. Staff in centralized care coordination centers will support the patient flow and manage resources remotely to remove bottlenecks in the network, by sending clinicians, ICU beds or other medical equipment to where they’re most needed, 24/7.
If COVID-19 breaks out in a new city, healthcare authorities could deploy a mini hospital in a mobile room such as a shipping container. This could be an ICU to care for critically ill patients (such as recently introduced in India) of COVID-19 and/or rooms with a CT scanner or an MRI or mammography machine to diagnose patients with non-COVID related illnesses.
The networked hospital will also help to ensure that patients receive the same level of care and expertise, regardless of where they live. Cloud-based IT solutions already capture and analyze the latest data and research from hospitals around the world – large or small – to gain insights into COVID-19, as well as the complexities of co-morbidities and the efficacy of protocols. Leading providers are applying analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to support a patient’s multidisciplinary team in making the best treatment decisions for that individual. Think of it like the GPS system in your car, delivering real-time updates to help you find the quickest way home.
Improving the staff experience is crucial, specifically in moments of stress. Before the pandemic, it formed one of the four goals of the quadruple aim alongside improving patient experiences, lowering the cost of care, and improving clinical outcomes. One of the main challenges among medical staff is burnout, which has only intensified since the end of 2019. Healthcare professionals are working longer and harder than ever, spending more time on administrative processes and searching for equipment, rather than patients. They are now also putting their own lives at risk. And although cutting edge technology can be a huge help in dealing with a new virus, sometimes something much simpler is needed.