Top Patient Care Starts with Modern Healthcare Facilities

Updated on May 14, 2022
Exterior of modern hospital building against sky

Image by 123RF

By Mary-Suzanne Powell, Vice President, Advanced Solutions Group, Johnson Controls

Healthcare priorities are shifting, and it’s time for buildings to catch up. Over the last 25 years, healthcare institutions have endured many changes and challenges, from changing U.S. government policy and reimbursement models, to evolving building specifications. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced healthcare providers to not only accommodate an elevated number of hospitalizations but also to adapt patient environments to further limit the spread of disease. 

At the same time, most healthcare institutions have similar strategic imperatives, such as collecting data more efficiently, adopting touchless technology, developing a plan for environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets, making investments in innovation, addressing disparities that impact community health and expanding in strong markets. And above all, healthcare leaders are devoted to delivering improved experiences and outcomes for patients, families and clinicians. 

These outcomes, which can also improve operating profit and open new revenue streams, can be achieved by harnessing the power of data. As the number of sensors and amount of data in buildings continue to grow exponentially, the value of processing data and applying intelligence at the edge, without having to send data to the cloud, becomes increasingly pronounced. By linking disparate smart technologies into AI-powered systems of systems that can become prescriptive, autonomous and self-healing, buildings can be optimized for patient care. 

Lassoing Herds of Data to Power Digital Transformation

In healthcare, the building and environment in which care is provided has a direct impact on the ability to treat patients. Any given hospital has hundreds of systems and interfaces, resulting in a mind-boggling amount of data. The question at hand is, why is only three to five percent of that data being leveraged?

The vision of smart, autonomous buildings is created by applying intelligence at the edge-device level to create real-time, secure, actionable insights. Learning to not only gather but normalize and use that data is necessary for healthcare facilities to remain competitive and keep patients safe, healthy and comfortable. 

Now is the time for healthcare operations leaders to team up with their IT counterpartsand work closely to better analyze and utilize collected data. Bringing together traditional operational technology, IT systems, clinical systems and cloud applications infused with AI, along with cutting-edge technology, can power: 

  • more predictive facility operations
  • more control and advanced automation
  • more efficient and sustainable operations
  • improved comfort and safety for patients and staff 

Leading to overall smarter, healthier buildings which improve the environment of care.

Creating Smart, Sentient Patient Environments

By connecting patient data with facility data and staffing information, hospitals can create smart patient rooms that adapt to, communicate with and protect patients and clinical staff. The data can allow a hospital to:

  • Improve patient sleep by adjusting lighting, noise, meal delivery times and temperature according to their time of rest.
  • Improve security and provide patients more autonomy by having long-term patients provide a list of allowed visitors and visiting times; from there, access control technologies can control entry.
  • Limit the risk of patients falling by turning lights on and sending an automated message to wait for a nurse when significant motion is detected.
  • Personalize the care environment with patient preferences. For example, displaying digital photos in a patient’s room. 
  • Use authenticated medical lockers with access control locks, to ensure safe and accurate medication delivery and administration.
  • Quickly adapt spaces to accommodate an influx of highly infectious patients by digitally adjusting room elements like air pressure, temperature and access controls-including pathogen detection and air cleaning.
  • Provide a quicker staff response during a code blue situation by providing staff with immediate notification of patient status and room number to help with wayfinding. Automated controls shift room features to the optimal setting allowing the healthcare team to focus immediately on assessing, resuscitating, and otherwise stabilizing the patient.

Our philosophy is to make the facility part of the care team. Optimizing the surroundings of patients and clinicians — including lighting conditions, air temperature, privacy and noise — can tip the scales for a successful intervention. Understanding that digitalization is a journey, not a destination, the first step in the right direction is to examine current bottlenecks, challenges and obstacles and work together with an expert partner to better understand how to leverage hardware and software to gather and make sense of large amounts of sensor and systems data. This can all enhance patient and clinician experience, streamline workflow, and positively impact the bottom line.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.