May 10, 2022

Design Considerations for the Smart Patient Room

Design Considerations for the Smart Patient Room

Posted by CMBA Architects on May 9, 2022 2:52:45 PM

With smartphones, smartwatches, laptops, and more, our everyday lives are deeply integrated with technology. Unfortunately, this technology hasn't often evolved to support the patient experience in many hospitals.

The technology to connect patients and family members to their caregivers exists, but the plethora of options can be overwhelming. It’s difficult for many hospitals to decide what a smart patient room strategy should include – or if it even matters, to begin with. In this article, we will explore some of what is possible.

The Patient Experience and Technology

First, it must be understood what is meant by “patient experience.” This term extends throughout the entire journey a patient embarks on when entering your facility from start to end. Every touchpoint is included. Furthermore, the caregiver experience, the building, building systems, and more are also connected to the patient experience – whether directly or indirectly. When designing a smart patient experience, all these things can play a role.

Start With a Vision 

Creating a smart patient experience starts by establishing a vision for exactly what you want that experience to be. Neither technology itself nor any single platform should ever be the driver of the vision. Rather, technologies should be chosen to support the vision.

Creating a framework for implementing smart patient rooms is best accomplished by assembling the right people to develop the strategy and explore use cases connected to specific outcomes.

Streamlining Your Process

Think about your staff. Focus on the efficiency tools and technology offered to help avoid burnout. The last thing you want is a new technology that increases their already strenuous workload. Providers, nurses, and support staff are much more likely to adopt new technologies if they are smoothly integrated into their workflow and processes.

Tools such as the digital whiteboard and digital signage outside rooms integrated into the EMR can update real-time patient precautions and key information. Easily accessible patient information can greatly improve the experience for both patients and staff.

Other technologies that can ease the burden on your hospital staff include:

  • Integrated medical devices (wired or wireless)
  • Ambient clinical intelligence with voice dictation (like Siri or Alexa for the medical environment)
  • Smart beds for continuous monitoring of vitals
  • Automatic replenishment of supplies based on weight
  • Robotic food and medication delivery

Patient Autonomy is Smart

Give patients the autonomy to control their environment from their bed. Bedside tablets and voice-controlled devices can make a room safer for patients by controlling the frequency of unaccompanied bed exits, thus preventing falls and injuries. Simple things like enabling patients to control their lights, shades, and room temperature help make a patient feel like it is “their room.”

Other technologies like smart cameras can be accessed bedside for telemedicine use and allow for interactions between the patient and family. Entertainment and education solutions that are integrated into the patient’s tablet, or even access to TV, can also put a patient’s mind at ease. These are all ways to increase patient autonomy with technology.

Getting Creative

Don’t be afraid to get creative with technology. Regardless of your desired outcomes, technology can probably help you achieve them. Examples of this include:

  • Intelligent real-time displays for patient monitoring, aggregation of data, and alarms. This can support collaborative care and provide easy access to information for both patient and family.
  • AI for proactive patient monitoring and alerting.
  • Virtual, augmented, or mixed reality devices for education or therapy.
  • TV screen mirroring/sharing to allow caregivers to share pertinent information.
  • Digital art that changes according to season.

Words of Caution

When considering these suggestions, be careful to not overdo them. Remember your vision and make decisions that align with it. Your advisors, tech engineers, and equipment planners should work with the entire design team to find the balance between a facility’s wants and needs to give you the best value for your investment while also allowing for future options.

The key thing to remember is to not add technology just because you can; it must be purposeful and tied to a workflow and target outcomes.

Interested in learning more about CMBA’s approach to Healthcare architecture and design? Click here to learn more.

Topics: Healthcare