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What’s next for Hospital Design? A Ubiquitous Smart Space

INFORMATION EVERYWHERE

The hospital of the “future” is just around the corner. Already, research is being done to create an “interactive hospital” (1) — also known as a ubiquitous smart space.

The first step for better hospital design is a shift in mind-set where computers need to be thought of differently — departing from the traditional “office-type” mentality.

You see, hospitals deal with all formats of information that need to be accessible anytime and anywhere within the hospital. (1) Instead of providing one computer per person, an interactive hospital would provide an array of computer embedded just about everywhere so information can travel seamlessly, wherever and whenever it is needed.

A PRO-HEALING ENVIRONMENT

As ubiquitous computing technologies come together to make medical smart spaces, it becomes possible for all kinds of medical devices to help with data and collaboration management. The first step is for hospital technologies and environments to become interactive — helping the medical team to do a better job, more quickly.

Here is a glimpse of how an interactive hospital might work:

“We are working on prototypes for creating interactive walls, ceilings, and floors, as well as embedding computers in hospital beds, pill containers, surgical tools, etc. We envision a hospital where clinicians can approach interactive surfaces anywhere and carry on their work. Some of these surfaces are small and handheld like PDAs (but are not personal), others are large like the one used in a radiology conference room, where the whole wall is one big interactive surface.” (1)

The beauty of an interactive hospital is that, if designed well, it can give the patient a much better healing experience. By creatively integrating ubiquitous and interactive devices, architects can fine tune healing environments through the patient’s senses, improving things like their physiology and mood — important factors when it comes to healing.

SAFER AND FASTER PATIENT RECOVERY

It’s all about the patient and their recovery. By maximizing the capabilities of the different medical devices found in the hospital, interaction designers can help with many of the problems and challenges hospitals face today — like medication errors.

Here is a telling depiction of what an interactive hospital bed can accomplish:

“For example, when the nurse arrives with the patient’s medicine, the bed isable to log in the nurse, check if the nurse is carrying the right medicine for the rightpatient, and it can display the relevant information on the screen, typically the medicineschema from the EPR system. Furthermore, various medical sensors measuring thingslike blood pressure, temperature, etc. can be attached to the bed and start using the onboard computer as a gateway to the basic infrastructure. Every bed is in itself a servercontaining various information about its patient and can be queried from e.g. an EPR.” (1)

In essence, ubiquitous and interactive devices can greatly help the medical team to do their job. By fostering real-time collaboration between team members and optimizing the environment to promote safer and faster healing — hospitals will be taking a much needed step forward.

Reference:

(1) Bardram, Jakob E., Hospitals of the Future – Ubiquitous Computingsupport for Medical Work in Hospitals. Centre for Pervasive Healthcare.

Image Credit: © Idrutu | Dreamstime

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