Kaiser Permenente testing novel hospital IT tools

In a 37,000-square-foot warehouse near Oakland, California, Kaiser Permanente is trying to re-imagine healthcare of the future and technology’s role in it, reports BloombergBusinessweek.

It’s outfitted a model apartment filled with sleep monitors, fall detectors and a smart fridge for a patient of the future named Leo. In one scenario, the 68-year-old retiree develops arrhythmia while shopping and a driverless car filled with diagnostic gear is dispatched to determine whether he needs to go to the hospital.

Rather than relying on existing offerings, it wants to direct the development of new hardware and software.

“It frees us up so we don’t get so stuck on the realities of today,” Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson says.

The warehouse also includes mock hospital rooms, an operating room, and a neonatal intensive care unit where staff can practice new procedures.

Patients join staffers in testing out some of the equipment, such as a TV entertainment system that allows patients to use a remote or their smartphone to review their treatment plans, adjust the window blinds, order food or call a janitor. That system was rolled out to a few test hospitals and was fine-tuned over two years.

With its telehealth system, e-visits (59 million a year) now outnumber in-person consultations (50 million), according to BloombergBusinessweek.

Beyond developing better technology, the health system’s focus is on collecting data to improve preventive care and manage chronic illnesses.

ER physician Caesar Djavaherian says some ideas, however, that seem innovative initially, don’t prove to be better, citing augmented-reality glasses for finding veins for blood draws as an example.

To learn more:
- read the full BloombergBusinessweek article