How smart hospitals are alleviating the health workforce shortage EJINSIGHT
With an aging population, the demand for medical services is increasing year by year, leading to a severe shortage of health personnel. According to the Food and Health Bureau’s latest review of the health workforce projection this year, the shortage of doctors and nurses will worsen in the long term. It is estimated that Hong Kong will be short of 1,949 doctors and 5,060 nurses respectively by 2040.
Over the past ten years, Hong Kong has tried to solve the problem of health workforce shortage through diverse solutions, such as increasing admissions to local medical schools, adjusting the policy to recruit untrained health professionals locally, but the improvement is minimal. Faced with this increasingly severe challenge, I am encouraged by the determination of the authority to embark on the development of smart hospitals.
Through the full use of the latest information technology, smart hospitals are expected to improve the quality and efficiency of medical services, nursing care, treatment, support services, from diagnosis to day-to-day management.
A hospital covers a wide range of aspects, including patients, staff, hospital beds, medical equipment, medications, ancillary supplies, and research. Keeping up with the ever-changing issues and managing all of those resources can be quite complicated. Therefore, the Geographic Information System (GlS), an advanced technology, should be introduced for better coordination and analysis of these complex needs.
With an interactive indoor GIS map, management can mobilize the team and accurately direct the workforce, from patrol robots to security personnel, to designated locations. To manage various resources and equipment like IV pump, wheelchair and mobile x-ray machine, three-dimensional (3D) GIS virtual cards can create a digital twin with the use of color coding methods to visualize different resources. in real time .
Real-time indoor map system not only displays resource location but also availability, it helps the staff member to allocate resources and make immediate adjustment. For example, when a visitor with reduced mobility or a patient leaving the operating room needs to use a wheelchair, the map can display the nearest wheelchair location and quantity, so that healthcare professionals can make arrangements on time. And when a healthcare worker finishes their shift, any equipment under their responsibility can be tracked by the incoming shift based on the map display, improving efficiency, preventing wasted supplies, and helping to deploy the workforce flexibly.
Another essential function of the MIS is the Common Operational Image (COP) which facilitates coordination and division of labor between departments. Using mobile app or desktop computing application, as well as cloud technology, staff members can perform real-time communication reliably and securely.
The development of smart hospitals has become a global trend. However, the compatibility and interoperability of different advanced technologies, such as the Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence and telemedicine, is an issue. In addition, there are many documents and files in the hospital, patient medical records, staff attendance records, status of supplies to registration of medication use, which makes management tedious and time consuming files.
With the use of GIS, management can achieve greater impact with less effort. The forefront of this advanced technology is its open system which is strong in collecting, integrating and coordinating data from different sources, and linking with other information for analysis, it is a great help for decision making.
In addition, the authority can add data like 3D city model, Land and Building Information Modeling (BIM) to the GIS platform to perform space airflow analysis. exterior and semi-exterior of the hospital, in order to detect the risk of viruses spreading in the area. It can even predict the needs of medical services in the community to aid in future hospital site selection and medical facility configuration.
Currently, Hong Kong public hospitals are gradually moving towards digitalization. The Hospital Authority (HA) plans to transform 18 hospitals with accident and emergency departments into smart hospitals with more technology to lighten the workload for healthcare workers. GIS not only facilitates the management of medical resources, promotes communication, but also analyzes long-term needs for medical needs. If the authority can make good use of GIS, it will certainly improve the quality of medical services and alleviate the shortage of health personnel.
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