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Healthcare

Will Hospitals of the Future be Purely Virtual?

Distilled Post sits with Vijay Magon, Founder of CCube Solutions, to discuss the implementation of virtual hospitals in healthcare.

JANUARY 25  2021

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The era of the standalone hospital is dead and gone.

Once the paragon of healthcare, the hospitals we have come to love and recognise are now a thing of the past. Brick-and-mortar buildings that once proudly housed the greatest medical minds and care can no longer cater to our changing needs. The COVID-19 pandemic proved that the foundations on which these hospitals were built could not support the extreme pressure they must now confront.

Thankfully, due to the implementation of appropriate infrastructure, health leaders have become more able to adapt. As such, health institutions can now rethink their offerings to fit current and future needs. The foremost need, the heightened use of interconnective technology, is now being realised across new spaces and approaches.

In creating a new health system that sustains long-term health, rather than only catering for acute care, leaders have built new facilities that are aware and adaptive to patient needs. Virtual wards and hospitals now provide continuous monitoring of patients anywhere, so that care is provided wherever and whenever it’s needed. The emergence of specialist hubs, in-patient facilities, out-patient clinics and ambulatory patients (or rather health consumers) can now be integrated onto a single, virtual network. As such, healthcare access is now around-the-clock, available through just one click on an app or one call away.

 

Emerging Evidence of Virtualised Healthcare 

This shift is happening throughout the entire consolidation of international care. Due to the pandemic, communities were mobilised to provide mental and physical care. Additionally, providers took an enhanced role in implementing technology that would allow for a faster turnover in discharging patients. They were able to do so by utilising digital and virtual tools, to increase operational efficiency and are.

As such, hospitals are now holistic networks that work with research institutions, care practices and other external providers within a national database. Manchester University Foundation Trust, for example, developed a ‘step down’ approach to streamline care services. According to Health Business UK, this allowed for ‘A&E attendances to drop by 42%’, in spite of a ;33% increase of 111 calls’.

While some changes were not immediately implemented, they succeeded in improving efficiency and the higher availability of patient beds. Already, hospitals across the world are adopting technology in order to free up beds for coronavirus patients. To do so, they have expanded their virtual offerings by launching video appointments and therapy sessions. Additionally, some hospitals have rolled out programmes to remotely monitor the clinically vulnerable in nursing homes and those isolating at home. The West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust has built a virtual hospital service for respiratory patients. According to the British Medical Journal, the roll out was ‘so successful’ that the Trust ‘wants to continue the system after COVID-19’ for other care settings.

 

Virtual Tools to Aid in A More Integrated Care Approach 

The expanded provision of telehealth solutions has tangibly improved the patience experience as well as the outcomes hospitals are able to achieve. A number of tools are already in place, which could accelerate the actualisation of purely virtual hospitals.

The Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions recognises that smart devices used for monitoring and advanced analytics will drive the emergence and success of virtual hospitals. In particular, the use of digital and AI technologies will enable ‘decision-making, targeted treatments’ and ‘continuous monitoring’ throughout a remote care process. The current use clinical software, Internet of Things (IoT) monitoring devices, healthcare wearables will speed up regular virtual interactions between caregivers and patients.

Further, the future hospital is most likely to use digital solutions to ameliorate supply chains, automation and next-generation interoperability to drive efficiencies across the board. As traditional hospitals often work in siloes, it is likely that future developments will allow for data to be discreetly collected for actionable improvement. As emerging digital technologies enable hospitals to put down episodic care models, we can expect higher collaboration and the adoption of longitudinal care.

 

The Success of Adopting Virtual Health Technologies through Data Initiatives 

Future hospitals, as we are seeing with virtual wards and hubs, will improve the patient experience by providing real-time access to medical knowledge and data. AI-powered tools and assistants will be used to assist in creating data repositories to inform treatment and care. Such technologies already do exist, and can be leveraged further to empower patients and clinicians through data.

Vijay Magon, the Founder of data platform CCube Solutions, believes that such capacities lie in our near future. The CCube platform, which specialises in providing Electronic Document and Content Management solutions, scales the power of patient data across healthcare. The platform allows both patients and clinicians to access vital information at the touch of a button, no matter where they are. According to Vijay, the CCube platform allows for ‘patients and service providers to access care, in spite of geographic distance’

‘The CCube platform seamlessly allows health institutions to transition from a part virtual, part physical provider into a fully virtualised environment. By doing so, the platform allows for patients to dedicate more valuable time to patients through heightened interoperability and innovation’

Vijay recognises the growing power of technology, particularly in its capabilities to use data to inform patient care. However, he believes that the challenge that health systems face is understanding the larger applications of virtual and data technology. Fortunately, the solutions CCube provides a way for healthcare providers to dynamically respond to their patient needs in real-time:

‘Healthcare needs to see that providers will benefit from using technology that more closely connects patient care and data. At no cost should care or treatment be compromised in any way, particularly because of a lacking technological infrastructure. Our platform anticipates this issue, and provides seamless solutions by enabling the virtualisation of patient data repositories and clinical management’

 

How CCube is Empowering Data for Post-Pandemic Hospitals 

In the past, many health leaders have queried the accessibility of virtual systems. Their concerns include ease of use, access and the difficulty of implementing virtual capabilities within their networks. However, has Vijay and the CCube platform demonstrate, virtualised offerings allow for patient information to be ‘available at the right time and the right place’. The CCube engineering team is currently developing recovery strategies for virtual, post-pandemic care. Through their efforts, it is almost certain that the heightened adoption and creation of virtual hospitals will meet our post-pandemic needs.

‘To prepare for a post-pandemic hospital, we have created virtual pathways that make patient data more accessible for healthcare providers. The important thing going forward is to make sure that there is sufficient security going forward to protect virtualised care offerings. Using straightforward methods, we can make virtual data access more usable for both providers and patients’

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