The digital transformation of healthcare has also transformed hospital design. At the heart of this transformation lies the patient room, the anchor of the hospital.

Like the modern medical complex, the modern patient room is streamlined with integrated and automated digital display solutions that enhance clinical workflows — while supporting patient engagement, satisfaction and safety.

Account for integration

Dry-erase boards have been included in hospital design plans for decades, and today, most patient rooms feature them. But these boards need to be updated manually each shift to include the names of everyone on the patient’s care team, as well as other pertinent information like dietary restrictions, medications and estimated discharge date. It’s easy for this handwritten information to become out of date or illegible. Besides, making these updates takes staff away from more involved clinical tasks.

The patient room of the future will include a digital whiteboard that updates automatically, drawing on information from the electronic health record (EHR) and shift assignment software. Patients, families and the care team will get the most current information at the point of care. And nurses don’t need to stop to update the display.

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Similarly, a real-time location system (RTLS) ensures that patients and their loved ones know which staff member has entered the patient room at any given time. Each clinician and employee will wear a badge that communicates with the patient room TV, automatically displaying their name and care team role as they enter the room. An integrated RTLS also ensures that the right information goes to the right care team member at the right time.

Screens located above the bed behind the patient can simultaneously display information relevant to whichever team member is checking on them. Their nurse, for example, would see different information than the attending physician, the respiratory tech or the dietitian. Implementing these digital solutions will require not only adequate space but adequate outlets and connectivity, which hospital architects and engineers will need to account for as they consider the patient room design.

Plan for telepresence

Connected patient rooms will also include cameras for telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM). These will soon be as standard as hygiene stations and bed alarms. COVID-19 has proven how important RPM is: Clinicians who can monitor their patients remotely don’t have to “gown up” and use limited PPE resources each time they see a new patient, yet they’re still able to speak with the patient face to face. With connected diagnostics, remote visits allow clinicians to make accurate assessments over a video call. This flexible technology also makes it easier for patients and their care team to connect with outside specialists.

For patients who are fall risks, cameras can function as virtual bed rails, alerting the patient’s care team if they attempt to get out of bed alone. But in-room cameras and telehealth aren’t only for dire situations: They allow for virtual family visits, as well as language translation services. And the same tools can be used to offer real-time, interactive education sessions with patients and their caregivers before discharge.

Support patient engagement

A digitally streamlined patient room doesn’t just support clinical workflows; it also enhances the patient experience. The in-room TV, for example, can provide entertainment in addition to diagnostics and data. It offers a welcome distraction, helping to alleviate the pain, discomfort and anxiety many patients struggle with during a hospital stay. When patients are entertained and engaged, they’re also less likely to call the nurses station.

Patient rooms might also have bedside tablets, which they can use to view their records and prescriptions, see who’s on their care team and communicate with nurses, doctors and other hospital staff. Rather than pushing the call button to ask a nurse for something simple like another blanket, patients can request these services directly from their tablet, so the nurses station no longer needs to work like a switchboard. This reduces the nurses’ administrative burden, eases alarm fatigue and allows them to work at the top of their license.

On the same tablet, an automated message can ask patients if their room is quiet enough for them to sleep and make the appropriate changes. Patients can adjust the room’s temperature, lighting and window shades with the touch of a button — all to create a better, more comfortable experience for patients.

Think beyond the room

The patient room is just the beginning. Digital displays improve clinical efficiency across the entire facility, such as these use cases:

  • Nurses stations: Equipping nursing stations with large, centralized USB-C monitors provides efficient, all-in-one information dashboards. Because they require fewer cables, these monitors easily fit on nursing carts.
  • Outside the door: Smaller displays outside each patient room ensure that clinicians, staff and visitors are informed of the patient’s dietary restrictions, relevant allergies and preferred language, as well as all safety protocols required to enter the room.
  • Waiting rooms: Visitors can track their loved one’s status on an updated waiting room monitor. Uncertainty leads to questions: Are they still in the operating room? For how much longer? When these questions are answered more quickly, the waiting room is a much less stressful place.
  • Wayfinding: Touchscreen maps show patients and visitors exactly where they need to go, avoiding frustration and freeing up busy hospital staff from the need to provide repetitive directions.
  • Marketing and development: Hospitals can install a microLED video wall to recognize donors and share brand stories.

Be mindful of budgets

Designers need to think about more than just design. Profit margins for hospitals are slim, around 1 to 2 percent. Designing the hospital of the future requires that every element work together seamlessly. And the design must be scalable, because technology is constantly evolving.

When digital displays are properly deployed and fully integrated, patients and their loved ones are more engaged and at ease. Hospitals get to use their resources as efficiently as possible, future-proofed to serve patients for years to come.

Learn more about how digital displays are easing pain points and transforming clinician and patient experiences in our free guide. And discover Samsung’s lineup of UL-listed healthcare TVs, built to support clinicians and improve the patient experience at a manageable price point.

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Roxanna Guilford-Blake

Roxanna Guilford-Blake writes about health, healthcare and the business of healthcare. She began as a journalist, but for more than 25 years, she’s helped clients tell their stories and enlighten their audiences. She runs her own editorial business (Guilford-Blake Corp.) and previously served as director of strategic communications at a boutique healthcare communications firm. She’s especially interested in the intersection of digital tech and patient-centered care.

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