Newsweek has compiled a list of the world’s top 250 “Smart Hospitals”, which it says have been best able to weather the storms of the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has shown how technologies like telehealth, virtual care, robotics, and access to real-time data can provide better and safer patient care. They’re also enabling hospitals to better coordinate their staff and resources.
Of the top 15 smart hospitals, 12 are in the United States, with the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic topping the list. Newsweek partnered with data firm Statista to develop a list of 250 hospitals that best avail themselves of the most advanced technologies.
There are 12 Canadian hospitals among the 250 hospitals, with 10 of them in the Toronto area. However, the top smart hospital in Canada cited by the Newsweek study is the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, followed by the Toronto General Hospital (part of the University Health Network) and The Ottawa Hospital.
The top Canadian hospitals:
- Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal
- Toronto General – University Health Network
- The Ottawa Hospital
- Mount Sinai Hospital (Toronto)
- North York General Hospital (Toronto)
- VCH – Vancouver General Hospital
- Humber River Hospital (Toronto)
- Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital (Greater Toronto Area)
- Baycrest Centre (Toronto)
- St. Michael’s Hospital (Toronto)
- Toronto East Health Network – Michael Garron Hospital
- Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto)
As Newsweek notes, the pandemic has accelerated a trend that has been years in the making. Information technology and other tools that make hospitals “smarter” have already become a big differentiator in most healthcare markets. It’s no wonder that the market for smart-hospital technology is expected to reach US$35 billion in 2021 and balloon to US$83 billion by 2026.
Fueling this new enterprise is a growing and aging population, rising expectations on the part of patients for access to high-quality care and improved patient experiences and increasing pressure to contain skyrocketing healthcare costs. Technology is not only the best way for hospitals to achieve these goals, it may be the only way, Newsweek says.
At the top of the list of technologies that hospitals need is telehealth. The ability to provide services, monitor patients and communicate with them remotely proved invaluable during the pandemic. Telehealth can benefit hospitals and patients in other ways. Helping patients while they’re in their homes reduces costs, catches more problems faster, reduces infection and makes healthcare more comfortable and convenient.
And shifting rehabilitation to the home means that patients can be released from the hospital sooner, notes chief innovation officer at Sheba Medical Center in Israel, Dr. Alan Forster. Those capabilities will enable hospitals to shrink their costly physical facilities even while improving and expanding care.
Remote monitoring is becoming important for in-patient care as well. By giving patients wearable devices, clinicians can keep a closer eye on them as they walk around the rooms and hallways. Patients can take some wearables out of the hospital and into their homes, workplaces and the great outdoors. The data collected from these devices provide early warnings of impending problems, which doctors can often deal with remotely with advice and prescriptions rather than unnecessary hospitalizations.
Machine-learning and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) are starting to open up entirely new horizons in care. Clinicians can’t spend their days watching a stream of patient data, nor can they drop everything to focus on every blip and hiccup turning up in the many data streams from a large patient population. But a machine-learning algorithm can do all that for them, filtering out noise and false alarms, while funneling useful summaries and critical alerts to the appropriate clinicians.
Machine learning will soon play a central role in diagnosis and clinical decision-making. One area where AI is already having impact is in image screening. For instance, Charité Universitätsmedizin, a hospital in Berlin, is providing images and diagnoses to developers of AI software to train and validate their systems.
Surgery is also benefiting from machine-learning and other advanced technologies. Some smart hospitals are already deploying advanced imaging techniques to prepare pre-surgery “digital clones” of patients – that is, virtual 3D-images that allow surgeons to examine a patient’s anatomy from all angles, which helps in planning the best surgical approach and anticipate abnormalities.
Such pre-surgical patient simulations will be standard in operating rooms at smart hospitals within 10 years, predicts Luc Soler, a professor at the University Hospital of Strasbourg, and president of Visible Patient, which is developing modeling technology.
Over time, these capabilities will be combined with robotic surgery, which has many advantages over conventional surgery, says president of the Research Institute Against Digestive Cancer in Strasbourg, France, Dr. Jacques Marescaux. Robotic surgery, he says, entails “lower risk of complications, ensures better patient safety and lower expenses due to readmissions.”
Some of the biggest technology-driven improvements in patient care will come from providing hospital administrators and clinical leaders with insights mined from vast, constantly expanding collections of patient data.
For example, Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm is analyzing data in near real-time to make adjustments to patient care and to determine the best use of imaging and other advanced tools.
These advances, of course, depend fundamentally on having state-of-the-art electronic health records (EHRs). Smart hospitals are tying more and more of their functions and decisions into the data being mined from their EHRs, using the results to train clinicians and fine-tune care. “The basis for high quality is collected data,” says chief innovation officer of Ottawa Hospital in Canada, Dr. Alan Forster. “This data can help to make better management decisions.”
In the end, investments in smart-hospital technology will be evaluated on whether they improve outcomes for patients, with less time in the hospital and at lower cost. “Innovative treatments must bring an increased benefit,” says Dr. Gregory Katz of the University of Paris School of Medicine. “By comparing outcomes across hospitals, it is possible to ensure that every patient in every hospital receives good quality healthcare.”
Top 15 Smart Hospitals (Worldwide)
1. Mayo Clinic – Rochester
2. The Johns Hopkins Hospital
3. Cleveland Clinic
4. The Mount Sinai Hospital
New York, NY
5. Massachusetts General Hospital
6. Brigham And Women’s Hospital
7. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Los Angeles, CA
8. Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset
9. MD Anderson Cancer Center
10. Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
11. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, NY
12. Houston Methodist Hospital
13. Sheba Medical Center
14. New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and Cornell
New York, NY
15. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
According to Newsweek, the World’s Best Smart Hospitals 2021 ranks the 250 medical institutions that are the world leaders in the use of smart technology. The ranking is based on a survey which included recommendations for hospitals in five categories: Digital Surgery, Digital Imaging, Artificial Intelligence, Telehealth and Electronic Medical Records. These recommendations came from both national and international sources. Statista’s complex methodology ensures the quality and validity of the ranking.
The evaluation process took place in three steps:
Expert interviews: in-depth interviews with Smart Hospitals experts to generate questions and categories for the international survey
Hospital recommendations from peers: an international survey that resulted in more than 13,000 votes from doctors, hospital managers and healthcare professionals with knowledge of smart hospitals
Desk research (Quality Assurance): a review of every nominated hospital’s advancements in the field of smart hospitals