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Caring: An Undiscovered Super "Ility" of Smart Healthcare



Nancy Laplante, Phillip Laplante, Jeff Voas


As new and exciting applications emerge using smart technologies, the Internet of Things, data analytics, and others for healthcare, a critical problem is emerging: the potential loss of "caring." The interplay of technology and caring has been discussed for many years by healthcare providers, particularly nurses. While these exciting technologies have improved patient care by allowing for better assessment, surveillance, and treatment, nurses often struggle with balancing technology and patient contact, as technology can distance the nurse from the bedside. The use of technology can disassociate the caregiver from the patient, essentially removing the "care" from "healthcare." In this work we introduce the notion of "caring" as an undiscovered "ility" that ranks at least as important as other well-known "ilities" in healthcare systems such as reliability, safety, trust, and usability. We define "caring", and discuss how it can be qualified and improved in the context of smart healthcare. We further review the challenges in sustaining care in healthcare, review certain examples, and offer advice on the way forward. In particular, we take lessons from an age-old profession known for truly understanding the "ility" of caring, nursing.
IEEE Software


smart healthcare, Internet of things, requirements, "ilities", nursing, hospital


Laplante, N. , Laplante, P. and Voas, J. (2016), Caring: An Undiscovered Super “Ility” of Smart Healthcare, IEEE Software, [online],, (Accessed June 20, 2024)


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Created October 27, 2016, Updated October 12, 2021