A fully digital hospital in North America, the first of its kind, is using the power of data to reduce patient wait times, streamline flow of patients and free up 40 beds. This is no mean feat given the significant complexity of hospital systems, its constantly moving parts and the very life or death nature of business. As C-suite stakeholders around the globe search for innovative, cost-effective ways of improving the delivery of patient-centred healthcare using technology as an enabler and amplifier, ‘smart’ healthcare – inside and outside hospital walls – is firmly in the spotlight.
With all the co-morbidity challenges associated with the world’s ageing and increasing population, healthcare needs are changing rapidly. Investing in technology to reduce cost, increase access and improve care is critical for healthcare infrastructure of the future.
The 167,000 sqm Humber River Hospital is one of Canada’s largest regional acute care hospitals, serving a catchment area of more than 850,000 people in the northwest Greater Toronto Area. Within months of opening in 2015, the hospital reached full capacity, and therefore a centralised command system resembling an air-traffic control centre was implemented to streamline patient flow.
The command centre contains 22 monitors that follow patients from their arrival to discharge, monitoring and identifying when beds become available, the types of tests patients are waiting for, and when rooms require cleaning. The system gives doctors and administrators the information needed to spot delays and bottlenecks across the site, so they can address these issues quickly and restore patient flow to the desired rates. Data stems from a raft of IT systems around the hospital, each with real-time analytics to synchronise and coordinate optimised outcomes and patient flow.
Monitoring includes bed management to track bottlenecks, emergency department admissions and waits, an early warning system to detect patients in distress, and a pathways module that displays what needs to be done to keep patients on track for timely discharge.
The technology is already delivering an estimated 20 per cent increase in efficiencies across the hospital, including freeing up an additional 40 beds. These additional beds will not only significantly impact Humber River Hospital’s operating bottom line, but also delay the need for expansion, therefore saving on additional capital costs.
While this is more of a hidden cost, projections could be configured into a business case. This is a prime example of how technology can be used to not only save costs through increased efficiencies, but also amplify the revenue potential for a business operating out of a building.
Yet these advancements are just the beginning of hospitals using technology in a new way to deliver efficiencies.
While the command centre is primarily focusing on patient flows, tests and rooms, the potential for monitoring and optimising patients’ medical information, medicines, sterile supplies, waste and clinicians relative to one another, would provide additional benefit.
Opportunities also abound in the remote health space. Humber River Hospital is planning to use home monitoring systems to further optimise patient care, leading to speedier discharges, reduced rates of re-admission, and optimised patient care. This has the potential to reduce costs associated with patient/doctor face time and optimise patient care beyond the doctor’s office. Activity trackers used during cancer treatment and connected inhalers are just two examples of IoT’s value in connected medical devices.
In one US pilot study, patients being treated remotely for diabetes achieved an 18 per cent reduction for inpatient administrations, 31 per cent reduction for readmission rates and reduced overall costs to the test centre by 7 per cent.
The advent of blockchain could also increase the availability of data between patients and doctors, helping organisations bridge traditional data silos, dramatically increase IT and organisational efficiencies, keep business and medical data secure, and streamline patients’ access to medical data.
There is significant potential for the IoT in healthcare buildings of the future. This technology will influence both sides of the equation: cost reduction and revenue generation. If business can leverage both, then the economics for the IoT becomes far more feasible, helping organisations look after their assets as well as people.
For more information on Humber River Hospital’s digital transformation, watch this video.