Hospital designs make room for technology

Hospital design efforts are switching to accommodate technology's rising role in care and help improve patient safety, according to an article at U.S. News and World Report.

One example, according to the article, is Dayton Children's Hospital in Ohio, which is spending $141 million to upgrade its campus, and inaugurated a new data center in February. When nurses enter a room in the new building, their name and picture pop up on a bedside TV so the patient can identify them.

In addition, at the DuPont Corian Design Studio in New York, Patient Room 2020 enables professionals in the industry to examine various ways to enhance the hospital room. It is a 400-square-foot, fully built mock-up of a futuristic hospital room, described as a "living laboratory" with a "'Star Trek' look to it," according to the article.

Patient Room 2020 includes a prefabricated, integrated system built into the walls and ceiling that contains all necessary medical equipment with plug-and-play capabilities to be swapped out as patient acuity changes.

Another hospital seeing tech take a role in patient safety is the University of Vermont Medical Center (VMC). At the facility, vital signs go directly to the electronic health record, relieving nurses of having to type them in and reducing the possibility of documentation errors. Healthcare organizations will rely heavily on sensors in the future, Charles Miceli, vice president and network chief supply chain officer at VMC, tells U.S. News. He says, however, hospitals need to make sure they have the technology infrastructure in place to support it and the flexibility to expand to accommodate innovation.

Debbie Gregory, R.N., a senior clinical consultant with engineering firm Smith Seckman Reid Inc., recently urged organizations to create a strategic technology master design plan that aligns with their vision and mission. Hospitals must use that plan to accommodate new tools in the clinical space while allowing providers to prioritize patient safety and workflow.

Research has also shown that the color, shape and layout of a hospital room can directly affect patient health and hospital savings, according to Blair Sadler, a senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and a former hospital CEO.

Four Chicago hospitals, meanwhile, are studying study whether facility design and environmental factors can cut down on hospital-acquired infections.

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