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|Date: 2023-12-04 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00006226|
Peter Burgess · Top Commenter · Founder, CEO at TrueValueMetrics.org
Updated: 7 hours ago A A A TORONTO – Imagine a hospital with no emergency room waiting lines, touch screen monitors to order food or blankets straight to your bedside and your medical records available at the touch of a button.
It could be the future of hospital care — and the newest site of Toronto’s Humber River Regional Hospital (HRRH) is aiming to be the first to make that fantasy a reality.
Slated to open in fall 2015, North America’s first all-digital hospital will rely on technology for greater efficiency, a natural next-step in medical care, HRRH officials said during a mock tour of the facilities in early December.
“Everybody has (become) automated and used digital technology, except healthcare,” Rueben Devlin, president and CEO of the new hospital, said. “You can go around the world and use your bank card, but you can’t go across the city and give someone your health information.”
“We think that’s wrong.”
The mock tour, which showed off six prototype rooms set up in one of HRRH’s existing hospital sites in northwestern Toronto, captured a glimpse into the digital transition.
Reporters were shown mock hospital rooms during a recent media tour for the future Humber River Regional Hospital in Toronto. (Erica Lenti for Canada.com) Reporters were shown mock hospital rooms during a recent media tour for the future Humber River Regional Hospital in Toronto. (Erica Lenti for Canada.com) Single-patient spaces look less like hospital rooms and more like hotel suites: Large television monitors will hang on the walls of each room displaying goals, records and schedules tailored to specific patients in single rooms. Beds will monitor patients’ body heat and sleeping patterns. Windows constructed with two-way glass will overlook the city’s downtown skyline.
In the hospital’s new OR, LED lights will hover above the operating table, surrounded by monitors for scopes or cameras and screens to view scans or X-rays. Critical care units will be hooked up to specialized power sources to avoid any detriment to those relying on electricity to power dialysis or ventilators. Labour and delivery rooms will use state-of the-art Panda Beds to warm newborns. And overhead, a ventilation system will pump fresh air into every room — free from recirculation that causes the spread of airborne viruses.
The hospital, which will boast a staff of 2,800 nurses and physicians, will aim to efficiently treat about 850,000 Torontonians living in the surrounding area.
The plans are revolutionary, Devlin says, changing not only how medicine is practiced, but also how it is experienced. Patients, for instance, will no longer have to ring call bells for nurses or painstakingly fill in registration forms. Instead, they can file their requests from their bedside touch screen monitors or register online or at kiosks in the hospital entrance.
With less time spent completing minute tasks, doctors and nurses are more efficient, free to tend to patients in need. This, hospital executives say, will cut down on wait times and create more opportunities for one-on-one care.
At a press event in August, Health Minister Deb Matthews applauded HRRH’s digital initiatives, claiming they will change the landscape of medical care in Ontario “by providing patients with the right care, at the right time and in the right place.”
But digitalization doesn’t come without its pitfalls. For one, the facility doesn’t come cheap: The 540,000-square-metre hospital has launched a campaign to raise more than $200 million to cover the expense of costly digital equipment. So far, only $52 million has been raised.
And while the convenience of the hospital’s new technology is a bonus, there are issues of privacy. In shared rooms — which account for 20 per cent of the hospital’s care space — patients can easily access their roommate’s medical monitor, which display the tests they receive and their long-term medical goals. The storage of medical records online also poses a potential risk for hackers.
Still, digital hospitals around the world have managed to sustain the risks. In India and China, where population rates soar far above those in Canada and the U.S., the digitalization of medicine has thrived, supported by corporations like IBM and Intel. In Denmark and Sweden, health records have been accessible online for years.
In North America, Devlin says more hospitals will likely follow in suit with HRRH and the rest of the world.
But, he adds, the technology won’t change hospital care — it will only enhance it.
“Technology is only a tool to help us do our work, not to replace what people do,” he said.
“In the end, it’s still people treating people.”
Erica Lenti is a freelance journalist living in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Daily Xtra, This Magazine and Herizons Magazine. She also runs an independent zine press. Follow Erica on twitter@ericalenti.
Published: December 13, 2013, 3:37 pm
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