Digitalisation creates rethinking of hospitals
23.01.2018 / Alvin Wehn
Large data algorithms are seeking to solve the cancer conundrum and doctors and nurses are abandoning paperwork in favour of smart tablets. With the help of new technology, societies are setting new goals as to how they plan and build the future of health care. So what is the key to the future of hospitals?
Entering the doors of one of Norway's newest hospitals, Nye Østfold Sykehus, you might think for a moment that you are entering an airport.
Before you "depart" to your doctor's appointment, you register at the digital check-in counter where you receive detailed information about where to go and how to get there.
When your appointment is finalised, the doctor updates your digital medical record, allowing you to get a full overview of your available health data, as well as information about who has been accessing your information.
The demographic and digital shift is pushing the pace
It was not always like this.
Many of today's hospitals were built in the 50's and 60's, long before our smartphones assisted us throughout the day.
At the same time, the population is growing older; in 2016, the Business Insider reported that globally by 2020, adults over the age of 65 will outnumber children under the age of 5.
This shift in age demographics drives the need to invest in more efficient and reliable health care.
Norway is among the countries aiming to meet these needs, with 750 million NOK being invested in hospitals every month until 2020. The ambition is to meet the needs of digitalisation, modernisation and increasing the capacity.
Health care is changing, and so are our hospitals. So how does this rapid pace of digitalisation effect the way we plan and build our hospitals?
Digital tools streamline the planning
Looking at the planning and building process, digital collaboration tools, such as advanced use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Virtual Design Construction (VDC), have become the keys to success.
The BIM models for hospitals have evolved into complex tools managing costs, products, fire safety and logistics together with all building disciplines.
After completion in 2015, the Østfold Hospital, was awarded for best use of open BIM by buildingSMART International.
Digital collaboration tools have become the keys to success.
Pushing the limits continues to be the key to innovate and succeed.
At the hospital in Stavanger, they are building a dedicated Virtual Reality room.This allows the stakeholders of the hospital to gain a user experience more true-to-life and give detailed feedback in the early stages of the planning process.
The purpose is to reduce misunderstandings and errors, and provide a more efficient building process.
Paper-free planning and design process
On the west coast of Norway, in Bergen, COWI is involved in designing a new paediatrics hospital. This project is pushing the limits even further.
The hospital will use a revolutionary technology; more than 1,000 m2 of windows with transparent solar cells and might also become the first hospital in the world to have a digital planning and design process – totally free of paper.
Entrepreneurs use the BIM models actively on the construction sites. "BIM kiosks" and smart tablets make sure they always have up-to-date project details.
4D planning allow you to add tasks to the objects in the model and to the project's resources, equipment and materials.
This makes it possible to track materials and ensure that all components are delivered to the right place at the right time.
A reliable Wi-Fi is a must
The complexity of modern hospitals is evident, but it can be hard to grasp just how complex they are when only looking at the big picture.
So let's take another look at Norway's wireless frontrunner, Østfold Hospital.
The 3,664 rooms covers an area of 85,500 square metres; 480 of these are technical rooms, which require complex electrical and technical solutions.
In the olden days, hospitals were built without computers in mind. Later, the hospitals' wireless solutions were redesigned for the use of stationary computers.
The client for the Østfold Hospital had much bigger digital aspirations; they wanted the entire patient monitoring system to run wirelessly and on mobile devices. The staff's daily routines are also aided by smart and wireless units, making a reliable Wi-Fi a must.
Wireless patient monitorinG
The technical engineers had to plan a way for higher numbers of access points for the wireless network, while at the same time making sure that the frequencies do not disturb each other.
Climate friendly, BREEAM classified hospitals make this even more complex; the environmental friendly buildings' walls are thicker to avoid losing heat, but they also block the wireless signals. The same goes for the window panes.
Still, it worked out. The final solutions at the Østfold Hospital enabled digital interaction between staff and patients; nurses and doctors now receive patient news and information on their touch screens through a RPSM system.
A patient with a health risk can wear a digital monitor that will send an alert to a monitoring system, if it recognises any disturbances, for example an abnormal heart rhythm.
The hospital staff are then able to track the patient down with devices, which give a position accuracy of between 5-10 metres inside the building.