In the digital era in which we live, technology has become an essential tool in all areas of our lives, and healthcare is no exception. The concept of the “Digital Hospital” or “Smart Hospital” has emerged as an innovative solution that seeks to improve the efficiency, quality, and accessibility of healthcare.
The Digital Hospital is an environment in which all technologies and IT systems used in healthcare are interconnected and work together in a coordinated manner. Its main objective is to provide a smooth and efficient workflow, enabling healthcare professionals to access critical information in real time, make informed decisions, and provide personalized, quality care to patients. This involves the implementation of interoperable information systems, the digitization of medical records, and the use of tools for process orchestration and automation.
In an digital hospital, electronic medical record management systems, patient monitoring, appointment management, pharmacy systems, and medication administration, among others, are interconnected to share data and communicate with each other efficiently. This allows for closer collaboration between different departments and medical professionals, avoiding duplication of tasks and improving coordination of care.
For a digital hospital to be successful and usable, it is essential that all technology platforms and systems are effectively integrated. This means that information flows seamlessly between different applications and that healthcare professionals can access relevant data quickly and easily. Here are some key reasons why platform integration is necessary:
▪ Fast and secure access to medical records: Platform integration ensures that electronic medical records are instantly and securely available to healthcare professionals. This eliminates the need to search and collate information in different systems, saving time and reducing the risk of errors.
▪ Effective coordination and communication: By integrating platforms, communication between different health professionals is facilitated, improving care coordination. For example, a doctor can access a patient’s lab results in real-time and share them with the relevant specialist, enabling faster and more accurate decision-making.
▪Reducing duplication of tasks: Platform integration avoids duplication of administrative and clinical tasks. For example, when a patient registers their personal and medical information on one platform, they do not need to do so again in other applications or systems. This improves efficiency and avoids errors caused by repeated data entry.
▪ Improved data security and privacy: Integrating platforms in a digital hospital can significantly improve the security and privacy of patient data. By centralizing information in an integrated system, more robust security measures can be implemented and access to data can be controlled more efficiently. In addition, policies and procedures can be put in place to ensure compliance with data privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union.
▪Better patient experience: The integration of platforms in a digital hospital also directly benefits patients. For example, by integrating automated appointment and reminder systems, patients can easily schedule appointments and receive reminder notifications, reducing waiting time and improving patient satisfaction. In addition, patients can access their medical reports and test results more quickly and conveniently, allowing them to actively participate in their own care and make informed decisions.
▪ Optimizing resources and efficiency: The integration of platforms in a digital hospital allows for better resource management. By having access to real-time information on the availability of beds, medical resources, and equipment, healthcare professionals can more efficiently allocate the resources needed to provide patient care. This not only improves operational efficiency but also helps to reduce costs and minimize waste.
▪Facilitates the implementation of emerging technologies: The integration of platforms in a digital hospital creates a solid foundation for the implementation of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and telemedicine. These technologies can further improve the quality of healthcare by enabling more accurate diagnoses, providing personalized treatment recommendations, and expanding access to care in remote areas.
Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Hospital Information Systems (HIS)
Electronic health records (EHR) and hospital information systems (HIS) are the foundation of a digital hospital. These tools enable the efficient collection, management, and access to patient’s clinical and administrative data.
The EHR provides essential data on patients’ medical history, including diagnoses, previous treatments, prescribed medications, and test results. This information is vital to understanding patients’ needs and health status, enabling more efficient management of their care and resources.
On the other hand, the HIS system is responsible for the management and organization of hospital information as a whole. This includes the management of clinical, administrative, and operational data related to patients and healthcare services.
The benefits and importance of EHR and HIS in this context are explained in detail below:
➡ Centralization and quick access to information: EHR and HIS allow all relevant patient information to be centralized in a single electronic system. This includes medical data, medical records, test results, diagnostic reports, prescribed treatments, allergies, and other important data. By having all this information available in one place and in an electronic format, healthcare professionals can access it quickly and easily, streamlining the decision-making process and improving patient care.
➡ Coordination and continuity of care: EHR and HIS enable better coordination and continuity of care between different departments and health professionals. By sharing information electronically, it avoids loss or duplication of data and facilitates communication between members of the medical team. This improves continuity of care, especially in cases where a patient is seen by multiple specialists or is located in different areas of the hospital.
➡ Reduction of errors and improved quality of care: Hospital information systems provide tools for managing and monitoring clinical and administrative processes. EHR, in particular, can help reduce errors and improve the quality of care by providing automatic alerts about possible drug interactions, reminders for follow-up tests, or warnings about known allergies. In addition, HIS can also include evidence-based clinical decision support tools, which help clinicians make more informed and accurate decisions.
➡ Efficiency and time savings: EHR and HIS eliminate the need to search, collect and analyze data in different systems or paper files. By having immediate access to the necessary information, healthcare professionals save time and can devote more attention to direct patient care. In addition, automating administrative tasks, such as appointment scheduling, bed management, or billing tracking, through HIS allows for greater operational efficiency and reduces staff workload.
➡ Data security and privacy: Hospital information systems and the EHR provide security and privacy measures to protect confidential patient information. Access controls, data encryption, and audits can be implemented to ensure that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive information.
Process orchestration and automation
Orchestration and automation of processes is also essential aspect of a Digital Hospital. With the implementation of intelligent systems, it is possible to efficiently manage surgery scheduling, bed allocation, resource planning, and medical team coordination. This not only improves operational efficiency but also contributes to patient safety and more personalized care. Real-time locator technology (RTLS) is essential to achieve true automation, as it orchestrates processes around the patient as they pass through the hospital, eliminating most manual annotations.
Such technologies depend on the availability of accurate and up-to-date data on patients, medical staff, and equipment within the hospital. This information is essential for real-time monitoring and decision-making based on the location of resources. Without an EHR, which stores and provides access to patients’ electronic medical records, there would be no reliable, centralized source of clinical information.
Another key aspect of a Digital Hospital and process automation is home automation. That is, the automation and intelligent management of systems and devices in a building, in this case, in a hospital environment. The aim is to improve energy efficiency, safety, and comfort for patients and medical staff. In this sense, at MYSPHERA we have set our sights on one of the areas of the hospital environment that requires the most energy. Our Green OR system focuses precisely on automatically customizing the appropriate ambient level for each operating theatre without staff intervention, putting it into sleep mode between cases, and turning it off at night and on weekends.
The integration of the electronic health record (EHR), the hospital information system (HIS), an orchestration and process automation platform, and a real-time location system (RTLS) in a hospital is of utmost importance, as it allows centralizing and unifying clinical and administrative patient information, facilitating coordination and continuity of care, optimizing workflows and clinical processes, improving operational efficiency, increasing data security and privacy, and enabling real-time patient tracking and tracing. This efficient and effective integration of systems ensures quality care, reduced errors, and an improved experience for both healthcare professionals and patients:
🔹 Continuity and coordination of care: The integration of the EHR, HIS, and the process orchestration and automation platform improves continuity and coordination of care. The orchestration platform enables seamless automation and management of workflows and clinical processes. For example, it can coordinate task assignments, patient progress tracking, scheduling of tests and procedures, and communication between different medical teams. This facilitates collaboration and ensures that all healthcare professionals are aware of the latest developments in each patient’s treatment.
🔹 Improved operational efficiency: The integration of the process orchestration and automation platform with the EHR and HIS allows for optimized operational efficiency in the hospital. Clinical and administrative processes can be automated, reducing the time and resources required to perform manual tasks. For example, appointment scheduling, bed management, test result tracking, and billing can be handled faster and more efficiently. This allows medical and administrative staff to focus on providing quality care and reduce administrative workload.
🔹 Patient tracking and tracing: The integration of a real-time location system (RTLS) with the EHR, HIS, and orchestration platform enables the tracking and tracing of patients in the hospital. This is especially useful in large or complex environments, where patients may be moved to different areas or departments. RTLS uses technologies such as radio frequency identification tags (RFID) or indoor positioning systems (IPS) to track the location of patients and provide up-to-date information on their status and location. This helps healthcare professionals to quickly locate patients, optimize resource allocation and improve patient safety.
🔹 Improved data security and privacy: The integration of the above systems also helps to improve the security and privacy of patient data. By centralizing and managing information through integrated systems, stronger security measures and access controls can be implemented. This helps to protect data.
How to achieve a Digital Hospital?
Integration tools play a key role in unifying systems such as the electronic health record (EHR), the hospital information system (HIS), an orchestration and process automation platform, and a real-time location system (RTLS). Among these tools, two of the most widely used are HL7 (Health Level Seven) and Mirth.
HL7 is a set of international standards that define the format and method of exchanging clinical and administrative information between health systems. It provides a framework for the integration of health data and ensures that information is shared in a consistent and structured way. HL7 defines different types of messages, such as admission, discharge, and patient transfer messages, laboratory results, and diagnostic reports, among others. These messages are encoded in a specific format and are sent using communication protocols, such as TCP/IP or web services. HL7 allows different health information systems to communicate with each other and share relevant data in a standardized way.
On the other hand, Mirth is an open-source integration platform that is widely used in the healthcare field. It offers a complete solution for information exchange and interoperability between healthcare systems. Mirth enables data transformation, message routing, and integration with different communication standards, including HL7. With Mirth, it is possible to receive HL7 messages, process them, perform transformations on the data according to the specific needs of each system, and then send them to the corresponding destinations.
The combination of HL7 and Mirth in a hospital environment facilitates semantic interoperability, i.e. the ability of different systems to understand and use shared information accurately and consistently. This means that clinical and administrative data can be reliably transmitted between systems, avoiding interpretation errors and ensuring effective communication.
Together, the combination of these technologies and standards creates a more efficient hospital environment, with improved patient management, smoother communication, and more personalized care. The Digital Hospital represents an important step toward digital transformation in healthcare, improving the quality of care and the well-being of patients.
Experience plays a key role in achieving successful integration of all these systems in the healthcare environment. At MYSPHERA, we have been developing our process automation platform and real-time location system (RTLS) specifically for the healthcare sector for the past 10 years. During this time, we have deployed this technology in more than 50 European hospitals.
The founders of MYSPHERA had previous experience in the field of electronic health records (EHR), working on its development before establishing MYSPHERA. It was during this stage that they realized the potential of the synergy between process automation and RTLS to improve healthcare management. They understood that, in addition to centralizing and managing patient information, there was a need to optimize clinical and administrative workflows for more efficient and higher-quality care.
Based on this understanding, the founders of MYSPHERA decided to focus on developing a process automation platform and RTLS system designed specifically for the healthcare sector. Their extensive experience in the EHR field enabled them to understand the needs and challenges of the hospital environment, and they used this knowledge to create solutions that effectively address existing problems.
MYSPHERA’s process automation platform enables the optimization and efficient management of clinical and administrative workflows in hospitals. It enables task automation, resource allocation, scheduling of appointments and procedures, and communication between different medical teams. This improves care coordination and frees up time for healthcare professionals to focus on direct patient care.
In addition, MYSPHERA’s RTLS system provides a powerful tool for real-time patient tracking and tracing within the hospital. The system allows for tracking the location of patients, monitoring resource usage, and optimizing bed allocation. This improves operational efficiency and hospital capacity management, which in turn leads to more timely and satisfactory patient care.