Smart rooms give hospital patients control of their surroundings

Author: Amy Oshier Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

More than 36 million people are admitted into hospitals in the U.S. annually—an average of almost 100,000 people daily as the country faces a nursing shortage. That’s where smart rooms come in.

Hospitals are now implementing cutting-edge technology to improve patient care and safety while giving nurses more time to help patients.

Matthew Edwards’ world has been confined to a hospital room for the last few months. But that hospital room is giving him something he didn’t have before.

“I was a gymnast growing up, and I had jumped into a foam pit that I thought was deeper,” Edwards said. “Turned out to be really shallow. I kind of over-rotated and landed on my neck and fractured my vertebrae.”

“Every single piece of control that you give back to someone who’s lost it is really important for every aspect of their life,” said Dr. Jeffrey Rosenbluth at the University of Utah’s Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital.

Rosenbluth and his team are behind the world’s first smart hospital rooms, rooms where the patient can control the lights, the temperature, the TV, the bed, the blinds and more.

“If I’m paralyzed and I’m going with my wheelchair up to the door, well, I can’t open the door by myself, but I can maybe talk to my device and say, ‘Hey, open the door,'” said Damaris Zarco, a registered nurse at Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital.

Patients take complete control of their surroundings by using their voice, touch, breath, eyes or head movements.

“We can cater the app to any level of functioning,” said James Gardner, Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital’s IT manager.

One study found that implementing smart room technology reduced the time nurses spent on documentation by an average of 24 minutes per shift.

“Patients would call just to have the blinds closed or the temperature adjusted in the room, but because they’re able to do that with the app, then it saves me a trip to the room,” Zarco said.

“There are people in those rooms that are on ventilators that can’t move a single part of their body, that are now able to operate every aspect of that room,” Rosenbluth said.

The Journal of Nursing Care reports that using smart room technology to automate medication dispensing reduced medication errors by 78%.

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