The Role of Telehealth Technologies in the Creation of Smart Hospitals

Telehealth has been around for quite a while. However, it took the pandemic to generate widespread adoption and acceptance of telehealth in hospitals globally. In this episode of “Health and Life Sciences at the Edge,” host Justin Honore talks with Intel’s Ed Buffone about the technologies that are making Smart Hospitals a reality and the challenges that must still be addressed.

“During the pandemic, the healthcare system was under siege. This virus was draining the resources of every hospital in the country,” says Buffone. “We needed alternative ways to reach and treat patients. The two technologies that made that possible were virtual visits and remote monitoring.” However, telehealth encompasses a broad range of technologies and applications that must work seamlessly together to make Smart Hospitals viable. “What hospitals lack is an organized, holistic approach to telehealth,” says Buffone. “In many hospitals, individual departments deploy telehealth, but they’re siloed. The solution is a cohesive, enterprise-wide approach.”

The three major technologies driving the move to Smart Hospitals are Artificial Intelligence (AI), Analytics, and 5G.  “AI is a key element that makes hospitals Smart Hospitals,” says Buffone. “Healthcare is an industry that is rich in data, and AI takes advantage of that data to give clinicians more insight into patient care.” Buffone refers to AI as Assisted rather than Artificial Intelligence. “When it comes to healthcare, there’s nothing artificial about AI,” he says. “The clinician is making the intelligent decisions for the patient. AI just provides data that can help.”

Working alongside AI are analytics and 5G. Analytics provide insights into patient populations and 5G extends patient care networks, making it possible to follow patients through their care journeys.

According to Buffone, there are three main hurdles to implementing these technologies in hospitals – finances, staffing, and lack of organization. “I think the real solution is maturity,” says Buffone. “Maturity of the technologies and the processes. As these technologies become more accepted and integrated into the workflow, the overall financial lift lessens. At that point everyone has a clear understanding of the return on investment and how the technologies provide for lower costs, most efficiency, and better patient satisfaction. Ultimately, that’s what we’re after,” Buffone adds. “It’s all about the patient journey, patient satisfaction, and patient safety. If you can do that while lowering costs and providing more operational efficiencies those barriers will fall away.”

Connect with Ed Buffone on LinkedIn. 

Follow us on Twitter: @IntelHealth 

To learn more about telehealth and Smart Hospitals visit: https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/healthcare-it/smart-hospital.html 

Subscribe to this channel on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts to hear more from the Intel Internet of Things Group. 

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