How AI and Big Data are Helping Build the Smart Hospitals of the Future

Better standards of living and advancements in medical care are contributing to longer lifespans. And while that’s a good thing, it’s also creating its own set of challenges: By 2050, 1.6 billion people will be aged 65 and older, according to recent UN projections. That’s double the estimated size of this group in 2021.

In such an aging population model, where people have smaller families and are generally living longer lives, the burden on intensive care tends to increase. This means that the concept of a smart hospital – one that incorporates new technologies and processes to run more efficiently – isn’t just marketing buzz but has become part of a conversation on an issue that is increasingly pressing. But how do smart hospitals work?


Everything Electronic

A central principle of a smart hospital is that patients are given a greater sense of agency. Online portals provide patients with options such as secure messaging, appointment scheduling and easy access to test results and reports. At the same time, consultations may be offered virtually, and health records are digitized, streamlining the transfer of a patient’s medical history between physicians, specialists and other healthcare facilities. These actions are not only more efficient but improve access for patients too, as those who might normally find it difficult to journey to their specialist are able to attend appointments more easily. While these solutions have already been widely implemented in regular hospitals, new technologies can help to upgrade a standard medical facility into a smart hospital.

AI and the Future of Healthcare

AI solutions are already being used for diagnostics, from helping to detect sepsis to during pathology imaging. However, there are also several examples of day-to-day touchpoints between a patient and artificial intelligence. For example, AI can be used for creating personalized treatment plans or for recommending medication and dosage.

Some of the world’s top hospitals are even now partnering with renowned tech companies or investing heavily in AI and robotics. For example, where the Cleveland Clinic aims to establish a Discovery Accelerator with IBM, Charité hospital in Berlin has committed 60 million euros to the EU project TEF-Health, which is dedicated to testing new tech solutions and preparing them for market. Meanwhile, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, U.S. offers support and care recommendations to clinicians based on deidentified and anonymized patient data.

Of course, hospitals need to be able to handle and transmit these large sets of data securely. Especially when dealing with Big Data projects, hospitals may choose to invest in cybersecurity solutions.

When Physical Therapy Becomes Virtual

Another example of adapting consumer technology to healthcare needs is the implementation of virtual and augmented reality. Specialized software and hardware can be used in a variety of situations, whether that’s with manual therapy, pain management, cognitive training, or diagnoses of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. South Korea’s Samsung Medical Center is a part of Samsung’s Open Innovation Initiative and is one such case study. It explores how AR and VR technologies can be harnessed for educational purposes, as well as the effectiveness of wearable devices in healthcare delivery.

These technologies require a solid digital infrastructure in order to ensure seamless functionality, data security and efficiency. Statista takes this into account in the third edition of the World’s Best Smart Hospitals 2024 ranking, based on the leading 330 hospitals worldwide. The ranking is published here and on the Newsweek website here. For this research, hospitals had the opportunity to assess their implementation and usage of digital technologies by filling out Statista’s Smart Hospitals Maturity Survey. Hospitals who are interested in participating in the next cycle of Statista’s Smart Hospitals Maturity survey can pre-register here.

Key takeaways:

  • Ageing societies and rapid technological advancements mean societies will need to reevaluate healthcare processes and capacity.
  • Electronic solutions like patient portals and electronic health records are already easy to implement and are the first step in the transformation into a smart hospital.
  • AI, Big Data and Virtual Reality are not only Silicon Valley buzzwords but are already shaping the future of healthcare in a variety of ways.
  • Concerns around data security and digital infrastructure need to be addressed, especially when sensitive patient data is involved.
  • Rankings like Statista’s “World’s Best Smart Hospitals”, created in collaboration with Newsweek, show which hospitals in the world take on the roles of thought leaders in pushing the boundaries of healthcare via technological advancement. Access the full ranking here.

Related Ranking

World's Best Smart Hospitals 2024

Based on a worldwide online survey of thousands of medical professionals and the Statista Smart Hospitals Maturity Survey, the 330 leading hospitals in the field of smart technologies were awarded for the third time in cooperation with Newsweek.

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