4 cool features of the "Patient Room of the Future"

While healthcare technology has changed patient care by leaps and bounds over the past few decades, the hospital room itself hasn't changed much since after World War II, according to the Wall Street Journal. But researchers and innovators are focusing on the patient room of the future--as a recent WSJ article describes--a "safe, private, comfortable place conducive to healing."

"With all the knowledge we've gained, we can increasingly create an environment in the hospital to minimize the transmission of bacteria, increase the circulation of air, and reduce pain, discomfort and poor clinical outcomes," Douglas Wood, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation, told WSJ.

New York nonprofit NXT Health, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, recently unveiled a prototype for a room which aims to reduce infections, falls, errors and costs with eight features. Here are four related to technology:

  1. A patient ribbon: This blocks out unwanted noise to minimizes transmission of noise to other parts of the room.

  2. A halo lightbox:  Placed above the bed, this can be programmed for mood or light therapy.

  3. A headwall: Contains the equipment needed to check vital signs; is easy to access, but can easily be stowed away

  4. A footwall: This is a large screen that can be used for entertainment, teleconferencing with doctors, and access to information about the hospital and social media sites, controlled by the patient from bed.

See the rest of the infographic here.

In August, Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare introduced its own "patient room of the future"--complete with 3-D printing, handwashing sensors and "life detectors," as part of its Healthcare Transformation Lab.

Intermountain teamed with technology companies Dell, CenturyLink, NetApp and Sotera Wellness to create the lab, located at its flagship 208-bed hospital in Murray, Utah. The purpose of the lab is to enable joint research that will lead to development of new ideas "to improve and optimize patient care."

Appropriately studied and reviewed innovations will be created and tested for use at Intermountain facilities, according to an announcement, and then possibly across the U.S., depending on contracts and regulations.

To learn more:
- read the Wall Street Journal article
- check out the full infographic

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