Hospital Automation: Challenges and Opportunities

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 4-Dec-2017

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 and 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.

Categories: Medical Malpractice
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