Over the past century or so, automation has revolutionized many industries,
from manufacturing to food service, usually making these industries better
and more efficient overall. The digital age has taken automation to an
even greater level, as wireless technology and the Internet can now enhance
so many processes. However, the move toward hospital automation (or as
some call them, “smart hospitals”) has for some reason been
a much slower process, riddled with issues. (We’ve listed a few
of the more common issues
here.) While the idea of digitizing and automating definitely offers promise
for improved healthcare, unfortunately many medical errors still occur.
How Automation Should Work in Hospitals
An article in
Healthcare IT News offers a clear understanding of the three elements required for a hospital
to become “smart.” “The smart hospital framework involves
three essential layers – data, insight and access,” it says.
Optimally, the patient and healthcare
data gathered by the hospital should be processed and analyzed with the aid
of software, yielding key
insights about patient treatment. These insights must then be
accessible to authorized personnel through a variety of devices, even tablets or
smartphones, to help doctors make important decisions about patient treatment,
and to help nurses keep track of the workflow. As these three elements
work seamlessly in a centralized, automated environment, all relevant
medical personnel have instant access to a patient’s data and insights
at any time, reducing the risk for error and improving treatment.
Where the Challenges Occur
While hospitals have gotten better about gathering and digitizing data,
they have had trouble developing efficient systems to process that data
and relay those insights to the professionals who need it. Without a seamless
integration of all three of these factors, the gaps between them provide
a breeding ground for medical errors. For example, if key data about a
patient’s allergies fails to make it into that patient’s file
due to lack of access, the doctors are more likely to prescribe a medication
that could cause harm.
In a hospital setting, a patient may be seen by many different doctors,
many of whom are seeing the patient for the first time. Automating the
data may be a critical step in helping these doctors provide seamless,
error-free treatment, and as hospitals move toward becoming “smart,”
hopefully these issues will resolve. In the meantime, if you or a loved
one has suffered from a medical error, give our
Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorneys a call to see how we can help.