Breaking ground on North
America’s first fully
digital hospital

February 6, 2012 2:34 pm Views: 5873
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A rendering of the New Humber River Regional Hospital – North America’s first fully digital hospital. Rendering by Plenary Health Care Partnerships.

Toronto’s Humber River Regional Hospital (HRRH) is breaking ground on a new approach to patient-centred care; empowering patients and using state-of-the-art technology to enhance the care delivery process.

“Building a new acute care hospital, focused on patient-centred care and efficiency, will give us an opportunity to revolutionize care delivery and utilize technology to create seamless, integrated communication between our patients, their families, the care team and the hospital systems,” says Rueben Devlin, Humber River President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our vision is to create a lean, green, digital hospital that will enhance all aspects of quality care delivery; increasing efficiency, accuracy, and safety,” he adds. “We’re excited to be building the first fully digital hospital in North America.”

Local MPPs join Humber River staff to break ground on their new building.

In December, Humber River, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and Infrastructure Ontario came one step closer to making that vision a reality by breaking ground on their new site – approximately 30 acres – at Highway 401 and Keele Street in northwest Toronto. Hundreds of supporters and friends of the Hospital joined HRRH staff, physicians and volunteers to celebrate this historic milestone.

“I’ve been working at Humber River for 33 years and it was an amazing moment to watch as the first shovel hit the ground,”explains Ozzie Altomare, HRRH Supervisor of Stores and Receiving. “Humber River is my second home and I am so proud to be a part of this important moment in the Hospital’s history.”

“I’ve been receiving treatment at Humber River for the last eight years and words can’t describe the level of care and compassion I’ve received from every member of my care team,” says Liz Logozzo. “They do such a wonderful job now; I can just imagine what great care they’ll be able to provide patients in that amazing new building.”

The new Humber River Regional Hospital will be approximately 1.7 million square feet when it opens its doors in mid 2015. Upon opening, the hospital will have 656 beds, including 48 critical care beds – that’s an increase of over 100 beds from the Hospital’s current capacity. There will be expanded emergency services to accommodate over 130,000 visits annually; a portals of care model to provide efficient curbside access to ambulatory services; and 80 per cent of the inpatient rooms will be single patient rooms with private washroom and shower facilities. In addition, there will be in-room space designated for a family member to stay overnight and a workspace with access to the internet.

“Our new hospital is designed to maximize the comfort, safety and privacy of our patients and their families. Single patient rooms will prevent the spread of hospital acquired infection and provide a quieter environment with greater privacy for our patients,” says Barb Collins, Humber River Chief Operating Officer and Redevelopment Project Lead. “Our building design also accounts for future needs as the population and demand for acute care service grows,” she adds.

One of the main goals for the new hospital is to streamline the communications allowing for the integration of biomedical equipment; patient care systems; building; administration and operational systems, providing staff and patients with instant access to information. The opportunity to make immediate connections and the ability to make these connections through a variety of mobile communication methods will facilitate patient care.

An inside rendering of the New Humber River Regional Hospital. Rendering by Plenary Health Care Partnerships.

From the bedside, patients will have access to their electronic health record, including test results, images and a schedule of upcoming examinations. They can also collaborate with their care providers using social networking tools such as instant messaging and video conferencing. They can use the same tools to stay in touch with family and friends, keeping up to date on their kids’ homework, or their grandkids latest soccer game.

Smart beds will constantly monitor a patient’s vital signs, activities and automatically upgrade their electronic healthcare record. Results outside projected values will trigger instant alerts, including stat and code calls for serious circumstances. We will know if a patient is restless, allowing staff providers to give immediate attention to those patients prone to falling out of bed.

Smart technology in patient rooms will allow patients to control lights, window coverings, room temperature, access multi-language educational materials and order food from a bedside terminal.
“Furthermore, when a patient arrives at the hospital for surgery, they will use a kiosk – similar to those kiosks found in some airports – to check-in,” explains Collins.  “Their patient record will be automatically updated and the registration desk, laboratory and surgery teams will know they have arrived,” she adds. “Essentially, it will be ‘one-stop’ information sharing and collection.”

But that’s not all. Thanks to the Hospital’s patient-centred, digital focus, interoperability takes integration one step further. If the patient’s surgery requires an overnight stay, the kiosk check-in will also activate the cable television and telephone service in the patient’s room; notify the patient’s specialist and family doctor about their admission and update them on the patient’s progress – including any significant changes in their condition – throughout their stay.

“I’ve worked in many hospitals in North America and Europe and it’s been truly awesome to see how much planning and technological detail has gone into this new hospital,” says Dr. Ray Martin, HRRH Plastic Surgeon and Physician Lead for the Hospital’s Redevelopment Project. “I know from my consultation with my colleagues that they are excited by how this innovative technology will help them in the care delivery process.”

Humber River worked with GE Healthcare and its Hospital of the Future team to test design and technology concepts – using the latest computer modeling techniques – to create design and technology choices focused on decreasing staff and physician travel times and distances as much as possible.

“Using a lean approach has helped us to create a facility that is efficient; patient-friendly and anticipates the development of new technologies and pathways of care,” says Collins. “Plenary Health Care Partnership, awarded the contract for the new HRRH, has worked with us to reduce staff travel (sneaker time) by close to 20 per cent. Less time walking means our staff can spend more time at the bedside, caring for patients,” she adds.  “We’ve worked hard to make a big hospital feel small and friendly.”

This drive toward a lean process has promoted the introduction of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) that, unattended, will deliver supplies from shipping to the source of use; calling the elevator as needed and communicating with staff when they drop supplies off in the department. In addition, garbage and dirty linen will travel from the source through pneumatic chute systems directly to the garbage machine and linen removal trucks. Utilizing these vehicles and chutes will save over 140 miles of staff travel per day.

During their stay at the new HRRH, patients will be receiving care in the most energy efficient hospital in North America; a hospital that also features 100 per cent fresh air throughout its facility and promotes a partnership between health, healthcare and the environment.  It is projected that the hospital will be using approximately 40 per cent less energy annually compared to an average hospital.

“The design and construction of the new building will adhere to the guidelines and sustainability principles of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) rating system,” says Lorie Pella, HRRH Director of Projects. “It will also include additional features from the upcoming LEED-HC® system – a new standard specific to hospital buildings currently only available in the United States – and meet the requirements for the Tier 1 of the City of Toronto’s Green Standard.”

Humber River’s new hospital is being built using materials with recycled and locally sourced products. The building will also have automated climate and lighting controls; green and white roofs; and indoor and outdoor environments that will be favorable to optimal public health.

As part of the link between healthcare and sustainability, the new Humber River is designed to promote a healthy lifestyle for its patients and community by providing attractive, safe and comfortable walking areas and gardens which will encourage participation in physical activity for everyone.  These ‘areas of healing’ will have a presence throughout the building.

As the construction of the new Humber River Regional hospital unfolds, so does the excitement and anticipation of an innovative, patient-centred, acute care facility that will provide the Humber River community with an extraordinary level of care and service.

“It’s been years in the making,” says Devlin.  “The new Humber River Regional Hospital is for our patients, community, staff, physicians and volunteers who’ve invested their confidence and trust in our hospital for generations,” he adds. “We are looking forward to delivering our unique approach to patient care in the first fully digital hospital in North America.”

Article By:

Sarah Quadri Magnotta

Sarah Quadri Magnotta Senior Writer/Communications Specialist at Humber River Regional Hospital.

4 Comments

  • Humberto Leon-Bermudez

    Hello,
    Please, I would like to know how I can obtain comprehensive and exhaustive information about the digital and computer systems that the future Humber River Regional Hospital will be running as North
    America’s first fully digital hospital in Toronto. Thank you very much. I do appreciate it.
    Sincereley,
    Humberto Leon-Bermudez
    Computer Systems Engineer

  • What I would love is a hand-held hospital navigation device that is given to the patient upon check-in at the kiosk. Even newer hospitals that I’ve been in this year are difficult to navigate. Good signage is helpful, but a little device that gave you directions would be excellent!

  • i would love to volunteer please send me the info

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