Advances in medicine have helped increase our expected lifespans dramatically. At the same time, more elderly people are continuing to live at home on their own, the number of chronically ill patients is growing, and demand for medical care on a daily basis is increasing. This results in billions of euros of extra healthcare cost each year. Healthcare providers have been forced to become more efficient by merging, outsourcing or coming up with clever customer care concepts. Furthermore, in a rapidly digitizing world, healthcare providers everywhere are evolving to meet new demands and deliver better care to more people.
The challenge for hospitals and doctors is, however, that they are expected to provide better services despite having to cut costs. As the number of patients per nurse will unfortunately grow due to a worsening shortage in qualified personnel, there is a need for efficient solutions in order to provide quality patient care. The answer may be the connected hospital: Modern facilities focusing on providing the best quality of care to their patients without being overburdened by administrative tasks.
Smart ICT solutions for hospitals
How does it work? A connected healthcare facility is has become a possibility due to the increasing number of wireless medical devices already used in hospitals. There are several medical improvements made possible by smart ICT solutions: Connecting devices to electronic health record (EHR) systems has reduced the time it takes to enter vitals from up to 10 minutes to less than one minute per patient. Advanced bed and fall monitors can watch patient movements and alert staff as soon as there is a problem. And mobile medical devices allow patients to go back home and be monitored even after they have left the hospital.
With our ICT healthcare solutions we aim to support all stakeholders. One example: Special iPads for doctors that enable them to access electronic patient data, such as physician notes, hospital records, medical results or lab reports securely in a few seconds, even when they are on the move. This reduces their workload and gives them more time to devote to patients.
Best practices: Papageorgiou General Hospital
Our subsidiary ΟΤΕ has transformed the Papageorgiou General Hospital in Thessaloniki, Greece into a connected, digital hospital by using innovative IT solutions, as well as products and solutions by Cisco. We installed wireless systems for voice and data transmission, allowing authorised staff access to the hospital’s information systems via tablets or smartphones. Cisco’s wireless infrastructure meets all security, quality and performance standards for data transmission. “The new IT solutions reduce our staff’s workload, while offering internet access to both patients and visitors”, says Grigoris Sofialidis, Technical Director at Papageorgiou Hospital.
Together with Cisco, OTE also installed a new IP phone centre in the hospital and created an interconnection with the existing one. This unified infrastructure – data and telephony via the Internet – improves the hospital’s internal communication and drastically reduces the telecommunication costs, because staff can accept internal calls on their smartphones. And, as we all know, IP is the future – just have a look at our subsidiary in Slovakia.
Touchscreens for work and play
But there’s more: Each hospital bed has been equipped with a bedside touchscreen device operating as an entertainment and information system for patients and visitors. It is also used as a work aide by the hospital’s nursing, medical, and administrative staff. These devices improve the offered patient services, reduce waiting times, and increase HR productivity.
There’s definitely an increasing awareness of the benefits of connected hospitals – this project was given the GOLD award at the 2015 BITE (Business IT Excellence) awards, for the category “Extrovert Information System & Web Applications/Services”. Each year, the BITE awards honour the best practices within the IT industry demonstrating innovation and contribute to overall business growth.