The Digital Ward - Using Mobile Technology In the Inpatient Ward Environment

The Digital Ward

Table of contents

  1. Difference between hospital wards and virtual wards
  2. Which ward is better?
  3. Benefits
  4. Challenges
  5. Digital ward innovations
  6. The difference they make
  7. How to Monetize Your App?
  8. How to Choose an App Development Company?
  9. Cost Estimation at Magora
  10. The Digital Ward of the Future
  11. Frequently asked questions

 

Technology innovations have continued to transform patient care in the constantly changing healthcare environment by providing fresh approaches to improve effectiveness, interaction, and general treatment outcomes. The use of mobile technology into the inpatient ward setting is a big step in this direction. As hospitals and other healthcare facilities become more aware of the revolutionary potential of mobile devices in enhancing patient care, streamlining processes, and empowering healthcare staff, the idea of the "Digital Ward" is quickly gaining traction.

What is a digital ward?

A hospital that doesn’t keep paper records or files is becoming a reality. Nowadays intelligent context-aware devices automatically gather data on a patient's medical state and send it to the main computer systems. 

In the beginning, virtual wards were created to take care of COVID-19 patients as a coping mechanism for the several overburdened hospitals that had exhausted their capacity. Online tools called "virtual wards" help clinicians remotely manage patients in a variety of therapeutic specializations.

Difference between hospital wards and virtual wards

A hospital ward is physically located inside of a hospital, where recovering patients are cared for by nurses and other medical professionals who are on call. This is the main distinction between a hospital ward and a virtual ward.

A virtual ward is created to simulate the assistance given in a medical facility, such as routine health checks for patients who don't require emergency attention. Trials are now focusing on patients recovering from respiratory diseases: those completing their recovery stage have less stress away from hospitals and closer to their home environment, and those needing urgent treatment have more chances to get timely care and appropriate equipment next to their beds.

Which ward is better?

The debate between real hospital wards and virtual wards cannot be resolved. Hospital wards and virtual wards cannot be compared as competitors. Due to the fact that their goals are different, they can never truly be rivals. Instead, they can be considered as possibilities for healthcare when one option is more suitable than the other and can lead to better results, faster recovery.

Hospital wards remain the preferred setting for treatment and recuperation. People are bound to need assistance and devoted knowledge when confronting a generally dreadful condition. Healthcare workers have demonstrated their commitment to helping people for hundreds of years. This is a difficult but important job.

However, the main idea is to help the physicians in giving the best care possible, and virtual wards are capable of doing just that. The purpose of virtual wards is to enhance hospital care by giving patients more options, a better way to prioritize their needs, and most importantly, better treatment.

Virtual wards shouldn't be viewed as an opponent for hospital wards. On the contrary, they should be considered as a companion who can come to the rescue.

Benefits

In many ways providing treatment becomes easier with virtual wards. But let’s take a closer look to the advantages:

  • Less use of paper which is not only eco-friendly but also convenient
  • Resting time of a patient is less interrupted 
  • Reduced amount of time spent on routine tasks
  • Improved effectiveness of viral infection control;
  • Faster reaction to patients' suddenly changing medical conditions.
  • Online evaluations of patients' health problems; 
  • Cut down human factor regarding documentation mistakes

The value of virtual wards cannot be overestimated.Are there any disadvantages we should know about?

Challenges

Virtual wards inevitably have negatives or potential obstacles, just like any other part of healthcare. Although virtual wards are intended to be an addition to hospital wards rather than a replacement, they are not always the best option for a patient's needs.

  • Urgent response: Some patients will not be suited to a hospital at home situation within a virtual ward because of the risk to their health from their condition. Whilst clinicians can be rapidly dispatched, or paramedics, it’s far safer to keep a patient who might need a near immediate response on a hospital ward. This can be mitigated in part by placing a patient into a residential care home, so help is on hand aside clinical monitoring, but this does depend on available spaces.   
  • Quick reaction: Due to the risk to their health posed by their illness, some patients will not be suitable for a virtual ward. While doctors or paramedics can be sent out quickly, for a patient who could require an almost immediate reaction is better to stay in a hospital ward. There is also an option to place the patient in a residential care facility, where assistance is offered in addition to clinical monitoring, but this option might be constrained by space availability.   
  • Control and monitoring: A lack of personnel is one of the main challenges for the NHS. To fill the positions, virtual wards will have to either hire new employees or attract them from other departments of the NHS. For certain organizations this will be easy to perform, others will struggle. For the latter, decisions will need to be made regarding who on the virtual ward needs what kind of care and can be safely placed at home, and the choices will depend on the workers' availability to monitor and report.
  • Hardware & Software: Wearables and other physical hardware are required for virtual wards to be able to take a patient's readings. They also require software that can communicate with already installed software. Any problems in the data collecting process can impede monitoring and restrict admissions to virtual wards. Virtual wards should still include clinical visits (usually by nurses) at home, although that may not be the case for all patients. Regular phone call or online consultation is an alternative.   
  • Cyber illiteracy: Inclusiveness is a hot topic in conversations about contemporary healthcare, but in the context of virtual wards, it refers to the requirement that patients are able to use the equipment and tools provided for their personal medical monitoring. Up until this point, virtual ward studies in England have focused heavily on providing direction and assistance to patients, and the remote care devices themselves contain built-in SIM cards to guarantee phone service or access to the internet.

Alongside these options, it's crucial to maintain the support of medical professionals or other carers. A patient who can't use a device correctly runs the risk of reporting inaccurate data or failing entirely, which eventually might require more time and energy to provide appropriate treatment.

Digital ward innovations

The numerous wireless technologies and gadgets used in the digital ward include:

VEGA 

Remote continuous tracking of patients' vital signs, including heart rate, arterial blood pressure, temperature, oxygen saturation (SPO2), electrocardiogram (ECG), and respiration rate, is made possible by the inbuilt wireless VEGA system. The technology includes proximity contact monitoring and tracking of location.

Practitioners can access the vital sign records online, and the health indicators of the patients are automatically recorded by personalized monitoring equipment (with the help of Wi-Fi and Active RFID technologies). The result is minimized possibility of human error as well as improved safety for patients. With the help of this system, carers devote less time on exhausting routine activities, freeing up more time for providing better care for patients. Patients can also sleep undisturbedly, there is no need to have their health data taken by staff manually.

Everybody involved in the treatment, - doctors, nurses and patients, - wear personalized tags (using Active RFID and Wi-Fi). The wearable tags are meant to make proximity contact tracing possible, which means that those who had interaction inside the ward are automatically recorded. The server receives the contact information from the tag on a regular basis using Wi-Fi. The contact tracing data stays available online for hospital employees to search, read, and print.

When dealing with epidemics of infections like SARS and bird flu, this system can come in handy. It contributes to controlling the transmission of contagious illnesses. It can also accurately track the whereabouts of the staff and patients inside the ward.

Computer on Wheels (COWs)

COWs are workstations with access to Wi-Fi, ergonomically placed on portable trolleys. They let clinicians to electronically record patients' progress as well as access patients' medical information and digital radiology pictures from anywhere in the ward.

Mobile Electronic X-Ray Computing (MERC)

Patients' electronic health data and online radiology pictures can be demonstrated on various screens using MERC system, which has twin, triple, or quadruple display panels. Doctors can remotely view these records and photos at the patient's side and discuss different treatments and clinical alternatives with them. Thanks to this invention, vis-a-vis interactions between patients and their families will keep improving.

Patient Bedside Terminal (PBT)

PBT is a combined data system with a touch-screen that gives patients and physicians an effective and practical way for obtaining data both inside the hospital and around the world.

PBT enables clinicians to access patient medical records, display digital radiology pictures, and discuss patient health at the bedside. Using these devices, patients can communicate with the on-call nurses through video nurse call, and nurses can place patient food orders online rather than doing so by hand. Patients may additionally receive online access to a huge selection of entertainment options.

Smart card

The medical personnel just have to carry one card now that smart card technology is being used for different functions. One and the same card may be used for recording attendance at staff trainings and events in addition to door access management. Its "tap-and-track" technique streamlines and accelerates the entire procedure. The same smart card can be used to track staff immunization records.

Future apps can be added to the smart card to automate tasks and enhance the hospital's operational effectiveness, patient care, and physical security over time.

Mobile Clinical Assistant (MCA)

The MCA healthcare tablet PC is an easily portable device with an inbuilt webcam for visual clinical recording. The patient's identity is confirmed using the integrated barcode/RFID reader. The hospital's electronic medical record (EMR) systems including other medical data programs are accessible to clinicians "anywhere, anytime" thanks to MCA's Wi-Fi capability. It can connect with other medical equipment (like vital sign monitors) using the built-in Bluetooth technology to acquire patient data from those devices and communicate that information straight into the clinical apps used by the hospital.

By allowing doctors to swiftly access and record patients' data, such a portable point-of-care device helps in raising productivity and improving treatment quality. This is particularly important in a hectic setting like the Accident & Emergency Department of a hospital.

The difference they make

Improved Patient Experience

The patient experience has changed as a result of the adoption of mobile technologies in the inpatient ward. Nowadays, patients have access to a number of applications that give them vital information on the course of their treatment, medicine, and also the profiles of the doctors and nurses providing medical care for them. Patients can contact their physician in charge directly and ask questions, express their concerns, and get timely information about their condition by just using mobile apps.

Sharing Real-time Data 

The way that health care providers obtain and distribute patient information has been completely transformed by mobile technology. Physicians can instantly access electronic health records, lab research results, radiology reports, and other important patient information with the help of secure mobile applications. This real-time data sharing speeds up decision-making processes, lowers the chance of mistakes, and guarantees that the medical team are well-informed and have a good level of communication.

Enhanced Workflow

Workflow routines in the inpatient scenario have been greatly streamlined thanks to the Digital Ward. Using mobile devices, nurses and doctors may complete duties like updating patient notes, giving prescriptions, and writing down treatment plans more quickly. In order to properly collaborate and coordinate care, mobile technology also enables smooth communication between team members.

Telemedicine and Online Monitoring 

Mobile technology has expanded its use beyond the walls of a medical facility thanks to including telemedicine and distant monitoring. Wearable medical gadgets that monitor vital indicators and other health data can be given to patients, enabling healthcare professionals to keep an eye on their development from a distance. In order to reduce the frequency of visits to hospitals, telemedicine platforms paired with mobile devices provide remote consultations, follow-up visits, and post-discharge care.

Patient Involvement and Education

The Digital Ward gives patients the tools they need to actively participate in their own treatment. Patients can access educational materials, individualized treatment plans, and tools for self-management using mobile apps. Patients can become more engaged in their care and have improved results from therapy by learning about their diseases, monitoring their progress, and making educated decisions about their health.

How to Monetize Your App?

Monetization strategies for the digital ward can include upfront purchases, subscription models, in-app purchases for additional features and data, or partnerships with healthcare providers for integration into their services. The choice of monetization model should align with the target market, value proposition, and long-term sustainability.

How to Choose an App Development Company?

When selecting an app development company for creating the digital ward, factors such as experience in healthcare software development, compliance with regulatory standards, understanding of security and privacy requirements, and a track record of successful projects should be considered. Thoroughly evaluating portfolios, client testimonials, and engaging in detailed discussions can help make an informed decision.

Cost Estimation at Magora

The Average Cost Breakdown May Look like this:

Defining a product, strategy and reachable minimum expectations - 16 hours

UX and visual design - 64 hours

Programming - 80 hours and QA - 24 hours

Release - 16 hours

Total - 200 hours

As you can see, a "primary" application takes 5 weeks of work (excluding preliminary conversations). Development organizations put the cost at between £500 and £1,000 a day. For a 25-day project, the budget is £12,000 to £25,000. The same project carried out at Magora will cost about £10,000. Adding additional functions and skills obviously requires more time from everyone involved and costs will increase accordingly.

The Digital Ward of the Future

The prospective use of the Digital Ward is certain to increase as technology develops. Predictive data analysis, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) can all be combined to enhance treatment of patients, improve clinical judgement, and optimize processes.

By using the endless possibilities of mobile technology, the Digital Ward is revolutionizing the inpatient ward experience. The influence of mobile devices is extensive, affecting everything from improving interaction with the patient and providing better experience to optimizing procedures and integrating monitoring at home. The future of medical treatment is optimistic as long as healthcare organizations continue to adopt these technological developments, with the Digital Ward leading this revolutionary journey.

Frequently asked questions

What benefits do virtual wards provide for the NHS?

With the help of virtual wards, patients can be released from the medical facility earlier and with zero or very low risks, which allows them to be observed full-time throughout the treatment until it is completely finished. 

That may:

  1. Decrease admissions to hospitals and make beds available.
  2. Minimize the amount of time a patient needs to stay in the hospital.

What are the main drawbacks of digital wards?

Although mobile technology integration in the inpatient ward has a number of benefits, there are drawbacks as well. Strong cybersecurity measures are required as well as adherence to rules like HIPAA since security of data and confidentiality for patients are of the utmost importance. To maximize possible advantages, it is also essential to make sure that every healthcare worker have been instructed on how to operate mobile devices and apps.

How do hospitals choose developers to operate virtual wards? 

In order to provide electronic platforms and devices for operating virtual wards, health care organizations hire authorized technology suppliers through the contracting system of the Crown Commercial Service. Participants of this structure must prove their ability to meet the necessary requirements regarding medical security, protection of data, cybersecurity, intercommunication of devices and accessibility criteria.

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Business development
Meet Andrew Volgin - a business development manager at Magora! With a unique blend of education in both medicine and IT, Andrew brings a consultative approach to HealthTech and EdTech technologies,
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