Developing Electronic Ecosystems In Canada’s Innovative Hospitals
The word “ecosystem”, at least thus far, has primarily been used to describe natural habitats. More and more we are taking a more comprehensive approach to evaluating and creating man-made “ecosystems” in a variety of vital industries. Healthcare is no exception, and some of the newest hospitals in Canada are being designed as fully connected electronic ecosystems.

A New Approach To Patient Care In Oakville

Halton Healthcare Service’s (HHS) newest hospital, located in Oakville, opened just two days ago after a four-year construction period. The 1.6-million square foot facility will utilize the latest healthcare technologies, in conjunction with innovative ideas for organizing healthcare services, to provide the highest quality of case-specific patient care possible.

Instead of the more traditional nursing approach that utilized one main hub to serve for an entire nursing unit, inpatient care at Oakville Hospital will employ the idea of ‘nursing pods’. Each 12-bed pod will included its own computerized workstations and communications systems, as well as a stocked supply of necessary supplies and equipment.

Because 80 percent of the rooms at the new Oakville Hospital are outfit for a single patient, the sheer size of the hospital presents a unique challenge. Splitting large 36-bed units into more manageable ‘decentralized pods’ will facilitate more effective patient care while also improving the facility’s ability to control infections and provide patient’s with much-needed privacy.

According to Inderjit Sahota, HHS Professional Practice Clinician, Operational Readiness, Medicine, “Nurses have more time to spend at the bedside. They can more easily see and monitor their patients, attend to their needs and help ensure their safety. They will also be more available to work with families, address their concerns and answer their questions.”

A Living, Breathing Hospital

The Niagara Health System (NHS) also operates “a state-of-the-art acute care facility” at their St. Catharines site, which opened back in March of 2013. This facility connected all vital patient care systems with universal wireless coverage. Those that have become accustomed to the benefits of working within such a system have a hard time imagining delivering quality patient care without it.

“It’s a living building,” said Jeff Wilson, NHS regional manager. “Our networking and connectivity is like a utility; we can’t live without it now. It’s not a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have ... As we move forward, it really is becoming the Internet of Things, so connectivity has to be seamless. We have the capacity to run a small city here.”

The wireless infrastructure in place at NHS’ St. Catharines site allows nurses, patients, doctors, and hospital equipment to interact easily and fluidly. For example, nurse badges at St. Catharines are equipped with wayfinding ability, which improves ability to locate and communicate with nurses using innovative call consoles and cell phones, rather than the traditionally loud, and often obnoxious, PA systems installed in older hospitals.

Patients Still Come First

While there are many specific examples of technologies designed to create new hospital ecosystems, the focus remains on improving patient care. Research has shown that patients are increasingly demanding greater access to their health information and desire a more active role in designing solutions to their health issues.

According to Wilson, “We need to look at innovating beyond the four walls. How do we enable cloud technology? How do we involve patients in their own records? How do we connect the community? We’ve done the groundwork but we still have a lot more to do.”

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Posted by: DSR
Friday, January 1, 2016
Tag: Healthcare
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