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  • Prof. Dr. Mathias Goyen

Making The Smart Hospital A Reality

Prof. Dr. Mathias Goyen is Chief Medical Officer Europe at GE Healthcare.

Medicine is undergoing a double paradigm shift, the transition to molecular medicine and digitization itself. Digitization in hospitals is not an end in itself, but serves to optimize processes and to improve the quality of patient care.

A Smart Hospital relies on optimized and automated processes aimed at improving existing patient care procedures and introducing new capabilities. It relies on the big data revolution – the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ – which combines connected devices with cloud computing, big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) – to ensure that the critical infrastructure is ‘smart’.

The overarching objective of a Smart Hospital is that patients will experience this as a place of personal and warm-hearted care with top-notch medical treatment. What is often missing, though, is the right infrastructure to network the various digital initiatives. In addition, the data and information generated in different places must be brought together and used in the interests of the patients to increase the quality of care. However, connected medical devices are already transforming the way the healthcare industry works. By 2020 the widespread adoption of technology-enabled care will ensure that the concept of the Smart Hospital becomes a reality.

Smart Hospitals in Germany

The University Medical Center of my hometown Essen / Germany is a major health care provider of the Ruhr Metropolitan Region and is to be further developed as one of the first hospitals in Germany to become a Smart Hospital. The University Medical Center and its subsidiaries are restructured with the clear goal of significantly improving patient care through a digital transformation and to relieve the highly specialist staff of numerous non-specialist activities through the use of modern IT systems.

According to Prof. Dr. Jochen A. Werner, the CEO of the University Medical Center Essen, the development of a Smart Hospital is not just about process optimization or data-based treatments. Rather, it is about a digitization process in numerous steps that needs to be shared with patients and employees.

For this reason, the digitization of a hospital requires a comprehensive internal change process, which must be done step by step and cannot be prescribed. At the same time, the challenges associated with digitization must be identified, openly addressed and solutions worked out. This includes the communication of expected results and impacts, which must motivate all participants to support the change process.

EPR and Smart Apps

An electronic patient record is the cornerstone of a Smart Hospital, which in Essen will include several other support systems and elements such as a digitally supported call center, the connection of a cross-sector telemedicine network, an App Store for optimized patient care, a Center for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, a robotics center, a department for 3D printing as well as a data validation center.

These and other components are implemented in a defined order in the context of the Smart Hospital Master Plan. Some things can be implemented faster, some slower, others are a continuous digitization process, always geared towards the two key target groups for successful hospital digitization: patients and employees.

The University Medical Center Essen comprehensively incorporates the expertise of patients on its way to become a Smart Hospital by having founded a Patient Experience Center which is closely involved in the digital restructuring processes. Digitalization is therefore the key to putting patients back into the focus of hospital treatment.

Developing a Smart Hospital means pioneering work. The early movers such as the University Medical Center Essen see the digital transformation as a great opportunity. Using this not only requires courage, but also a great effort to get everyone involved on track for digitization. For this to succeed, all internal stakeholders are to be closely involved in this change process.

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