Why Smart Hospitals Mean Better Patient Outcomes

Code Blue.

The two most intense words one can hear inside the confines of a hospital. Whether it’s from the latest TV medical drama or a real-life situation, just about everyone knows what it means. The words conjure the image of doctors and nurses scrambling to assist a patient in critical distress.

In every hospital in the country, it begins the same way – with an audio announcement of a code blue over the PA system. Well, every hospital except one.

In a new hospital slated to open just north of Toronto, there will not be any code blue announcements. That’s because Mackenzie Health is working to create a new kind of health care facility – a “Smart” hospital. Unlike traditional facilities, in a smart hospital, emergency care will be triggered by a set of pre-determined alerts indicating a patient is in immediate distress. This will activate an emergency care response as soon as it is required.

Today, when a Code Blue team within the hospital hears the audible alarm, they need to be directed to the patient’s bedside to begin assessment and potentially initiate advanced cardiac life support guided resuscitation.

In a “smart” scenario, signs of patient distress are immediately captured by in-room devices. The closest available Code Blue team receives an urgent alert, along with precise patient location and physical directions, as well as specific clinical information on their mobile devices so that they are able to begin thinking about emergency care as they move towards the scene. Caregivers’ paths to the patient are accelerated through dedicated, express elevators that are redirected to meet them and take them directly to their destination floor.

In the patient’s room, automated IV pumps halt delivery of non-essential medications, the bed is repositioned to facilitate resuscitation, and blinds and lights are automatically adjusted to make the room as bright as possible. Relevant patient information is displayed on the in-room screens and care providers can utilize that screen and other in-room devices to expedite communication within and outside the hospital with other specialists. Crucial minutes are saved, giving the patient a better chance of survival.

These clinical benefits not only expedite patient care, but represent significant cost savings, and are why our provincial government healthcare leaders and every acute care hospital needs to look at implementing smart technology. This is why Compugen feels privileged to be a part of the ground-breaking innovation taking place at Mackenzie Health and helping to change the way Canadians receive healthcare services.

Even non-acute wait-times can be improved through smart technology. Activities and resources such as managing workflow for doctors, nurses, and support staff can be significantly improved. If a doctor or nurse needs to change their availability at the last minute, a smart hospital will automatically schedule their replacement, notify the replacement worker where they need to be and provide all the relevant medical history to that individual’s device. Afterward, a copy of any resulting consultations will be sent to the patient’s primary care team in the community. This can’t help but result in better continuity of patient care and energized care providers.

The smart hospital in Vaughan will provide exceptional patient care to over 500,000 people in the York Region. Plans are already in place to build more in Ontario. But Canadians need these capabilities from coast to coast.

Our world is rapidly changing but our hospital infrastructure often appears stuck in a 19th-century model. There are many hospitals over 100 years old still in operation that have limited possibilities for advancement and others that have been forced to expand to deal with the demographic realities of the day without much thought for the `impact on patient care or ease of healthcare delivery. Whether a hospital is being built like a Jumbo Jet from the ground up or being expanded in-flight, I believe we need to replace antiquated structures with smart hospitals and retrofit newer buildings with the latest technology.

Imagine a hospital where devices, sensors, building systems, and hospital information systems can exchange information with each other, patients and healthcare providers and act upon it immediately. Where the advent of connected devices within smart workflows brings resources such as hospital beds, elevators, patient rooms and operating theatres outfitted with audiovisual equipment, and armbands to life. Where the hospital has your full medical history, so you don’t have to recount it with them upon your arrival.

Does this sound like your local hospital? It should.

The bottom line is with all smart technology can bring to patient care, we can’t afford to keep doing things the way we’ve done for the past 100 years or so. The network of smart hospitals Mackenzie Health is pioneering can be an example of a 21st Century Canadian hospital that should be implemented right across the country.

To find out more about smart hospitals and how to facilitate it for your community, drop me a line or visit our website and I would be happy to discuss it with you and answer any questions you may have.

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