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Building State-of-the-Art Technology into Your Design Plans

April 2016
Author: Lisa Ellis

How do you incorporate the latest technological advances into your design efforts? If you’re like most healthcare organizations today, the newest electronic tools and offerings are probably taking center stage in your modernization plans, helping to lead the way toward achieving better outcomes.

State-of-the-art capabilities such as electronic health record systems, robotic surgeries, remote video connections, and medication safety systems are just a few of the IT approaches that organizations are embracing to increase diagnostic and treatment efforts and enhance patient outcomes in exciting ways. Such advances in IT can help you to meet those oh-so-important aims of providing cost effective and efficient patient-centered care.

Other IT advances on the forefront in 2015 include infection detection technologies, which can identify infectious diseases early and help keep them from spreading; staff management systems that coordinate employee schedules and make it easy to match staffing patterns with patient volume; and bedside computer terminals that enable patients to stay connected while also allowing clinicians to conveniently update records.

But in order for these and a host of service line technology investments to expand on your organization’s capacity and help it remain competitive in the fast-moving marketplace, these components need to be thoughtfully integrated into your layout and design details. Some of the concrete ways that hospitals are reworking their spaces to accomplish this goal include allocating more single patient rooms that are wired to take advantage of electronic capabilities, creating an interface that can support electronic medical records, incorporating telehealth options to connect patients with specialists across the state (or even around the world!), and expanding operating rooms to accommodate minimally invasive robotics surgical techniques.

The setting of the University of Chicago Medical Center’s Center for Care and Discovery illustrates how integrating such technologies (and many others) can take their complex specialty care to the next level.

As the name suggests, this facility meets today’s patient-centered focus while using technology to take advantage of the newest diagnostic and treatment options. The facility is also designed to evolve along with the community’s changing needs. With 10 floors and 1.2 million feet of building space to work with, the architectural firm that created the layout used a grid system that supports an array of innovations today (such as advanced surgical techniques and high-tech medical imaging). The layout can also be easily reconfigured in the future without changing the outside structure as the needs of the service population change and technology continues to advance.

What this facility demonstrates, as do many others at the forefront of state-of-the-art care provision, is that the key to getting it right in this day and age is taking a practical approach to spotlighting technology within a modern architectural design and layout, while keeping it flexible enough to evolve to meet future needs and capacity.

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