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In the post-epidemic era, smart hospitals with ‘digital brains’ empower patients with better experiences

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In the post-epidemic era, smart hospitals with ‘digital brains’ empower patients with better experiences

October 22
10:42 2020

The “New Medical Infrastructure, Smart New Future” Public Hospital Smart Innovation and Development Forum was held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province on Oct 18.

“Smart hospital is becoming a buzzword in the medical industry, and the concept is constantly updated,” said Ye Quanfu, director of the Medical Management Institute of the National Health Commission (China), via a video link.

In August 2014, China issued the “Guiding Opinions on Promoting the Healthy Development of Smart Cities”, the first time that the construction of “smart hospitals” was proposed. After that, the central and local governments issued a series of policies to push the construction of “smart hospitals” into rapid development.

“Chinese hospitals are in the critical stage of informatization moving towards intelligence,” Ye remarked. Smart hospitals include smart medical care, smart management, smart services, and smart nursing, he said in China Hangzhou, adding that since the COVID-19 outbreak, the value of smart hospitals has become even more prominent.

“With the telemedicine, online accurate appointments, and big data analysis, smart medical [practices] has played an irreplaceable role in reducing crowd contact, supporting epidemic prevention decision-making, and improving treatment plans and has further promoted the implementation of smart hospitals in China and people’s acceptance of it,” Ye elucidated.

Zhejiang Hospital is a practical example exploring the smart hospital concept. In recent years, with the help of using a “digital brain”, it has explored new intelligent technologies, promoted the rapid development of intelligent diagnosis and treatment, intelligent detection, and intelligent imaging. The hospital has continuously accumulated and explored the application of big data to support more accurate clinical decision-making, which have effectively improved the patient experience and provided a reference for the wisdom of domestic hospitals.

In fact, as early as 10 years ago, Zhejiang already started the exploration of smart hospitals. It built a collaborative and efficient, full-process integrated diagnosis and treatment model, and initiated the construction of the “two-card integration, one-network service” project, which has achieved full coverage in Zhejiang with the city as a unit. The province has also launched the “Zhejiang Health Navigation App”, which integrates functions such as one-key registration and medical navigation in the whole province.

According to Yu Xinle, deputy director of the Zhejiang Provincial Health Commission, Zhejiang’s smart hospitals this year have also been connected with urban management departments and urban brains, which is not only opening up the hospital’s medical-related blocking points, but also solving the parking and eating in the process of medical treatment through departmental linkage and some other issues.

“Now when we go to the hospital, the parking time is shortening, the waiting time is also shortening, the average hospital stay in the hospital is also declining. The average hospital stay in the top three hospitals has dropped from 8.61 days in 2016 to 6.9 days in 2019, and it continues to decline,” Yu said.

Some other cities in China are also vigorously promoting the transformation of smart medical care.

For example, since April 2016, Anhui Provincial Hospital has also promoted a multi-functional self-service system in the hospital. Through the multi-functional self-service machine, patients can apply for medical cards, top up, make appointments, and pay the fees.

In the outpatient pharmacy of the hospital, the emergence of an automatic dispensing machine reduced the time to dispense a prescription from 30 to eight seconds.

Wei Wei, a doctor in the hospital’s CT room, said that in the past when doctors examined patients, they often had to look at hundreds of films to find the cause, which sometimes led to even misdiagnosis. The artificial intelligence medical imaging auxiliary diagnosis system can provide doctors with intelligent auxiliary diagnosis of lung nodules. The doctor only needs to find the lesion from the images screened by the system. 

“It used to take about three to five minutes to watch a patient’s film. Since the artificial intelligence assist system, the time can be reduced by half,” he said.

However, there is still a section of the population that isn’t able to access or enjoy the convenience brought by “intelligence”, and encounter many dilemmas.

For instance, many elderly patients find it difficult to navigate through the fully integrated appointment registration processes implemented by many hospitals.

They don’t know how to make mobile payments, how to use navigation, how to use pictures and videos, and how to use online car-hailing. What is usually seen as easy and convenient by the younger generation becomes extremely difficult for this group.

During the epidemic this year, an old man at a subway station in China’s northeast Dalian City, Liaoning Province, did not know how to show his health code. After many failed attempts, he had to seek help from the police.

In order to help elderly patients and other people in need of self-service recharge, appointment and other projects, Zhejiang Hospital, Anhui Provincial Hospital and many other hospitals in China have specially arranged volunteers to help them to learn how to use such apps and machines.

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