Designing for patient engagement: Smart hospital rooms of the future

As hospitals look to meet the demands of the future, smart rooms designed around patient engagement are catching on.

Written by Jennifer Bresnick, Digital Health Insights (DHI)

At Nebraska Medicine in the Omaha region, “Project Next” is tackling the challenge of making inpatient care as person-centered as possible. With its new Innovation Design Unit, the health system is merging a number of cutting-edge digital strategies with an extensive re-think of the current care model in an effort to prepare the health system for the future of hospital care.

“Technology is moving so fast, and it’s surprisingly difficult to design a hospital room that isn’t obsolete as soon as it’s finished,” said Scott Raymond, VP Chief Information & Innovation Officer at Nebraska Medicine. “When it can cost upwards of $2 million renovate a single room, it’s important not to get it wrong.”

“We need to think about how we can future proof our physical environment so that it is truly designed around what the workflows and care models are going to look like ten, twenty, or thirty years from now.”

Envisioning a digital-first future in an established physical setting

To maximize the configurability of existing spaces, Raymond’s team started with installing movable walls that can be rearranged to divide spaces or change the orientation of furniture, gasses, and devices. Then they started to layer in the technology to bring the room alive.

“We decided on four primary technologies to anchor our work.  As an Epic customer, obviously those technologies are going to be in there.  We’re also going to have a virtual nursing system, a real-time location system (RTLS), and our new patient engagement platform from Vibe Health, which includes a digital footwall where the patient can access information, control features in the room, and communicate with their care team via cameras, microphones, and tablet devices.”

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