Diagnostic imaging department designed to reflect quality of care

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There is a significant amount of published research that links improved patient outcomes to health-care environment design. These evidence-based, patient-centric design concepts create an environment that supports service excellence by providing a physical space that complements our mission, values, and strategic goals.

The redevelopment of St. Joseph’s Healthcare’s Perioperative Service required that the Diagnostic Imaging (DI) department relocate and, as such, update their 50 year-old department. “This provided a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Diagnostic Services staff to review current evidence-based designs, equipment utilization, work processes, and the patient journeys in conjunction with ‘Hospitals of the Future’ and the retained architects,” says Dr. Dan Franic, Chief of Diagnostic Imaging at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH). “I was extremely impressed by the great interest and enthusiasm taken by our staff to develop a detailed functional plan followed by superb participation in the long hours needed to fulfill the design process. This truly was a team effort and I applaud them in being so diligent with this difficult task.”

“The new DI department design process enabled St. Joseph’s Healthcare to enhance and transform the DI department into a high performing specialty area that ensures safe efficient operations, best practice philosophy, and exemplary, patient-centric care in an environment of healing and wellness,” says David Wormald, Director of Diagnostic Imaging. “We are always striving to improve all aspects of care, service and safety initiatives.”

Some design principles used to enhance and improve the patient experience in the new DI department, now located on Level 0 of the Juravinski Innovation Tower at the hospital’s Charlton Campus, support our “Nature to Nurture” philosophy and include:

• The in-patient population and the out-patient population have been separated to ensure patient privacy and to preserve dignity.

• Examination rooms, preparation rooms, and registration areas are completely private. The Woman’s Health Centre boasts a separate entrance to support this wellness program.

• Overall noise reduction has been achieved via use of construction materials and new wireless access for radiologists which reduces overhead pages.

• Color and texture is used for way-finding.

• Indirect and natural lighting is used to create a tranquil environment.

• Use of natural products, and visual distractions such as wall and ceiling murals in waiting areas and procedural rooms to decrease patient anxiety.

• Improved infection control is achieved via infrastructure design (air), installation of touchless hand-washing sinks, and through the separation of clean and soiled supplies in dedicated enclosures.

• Efficiencies that translate into a more timely patient journey.

• “Quality of Life in the Workplace” for our support staff played a vital role in the design to improve the working conditions and improve productivity of our busy environments.

“Diagnostic Imaging is accountable and dedicated to developing leading practices of diagnostic care and models of efficiency,” says Wormald. “Our ‘Lean’ initiatives enable us to streamline care delivery processes and to improve patient satisfaction, access to care and wait times.”

The redevelopment planning process included the collection of a significant amount of data, including patient demographics, patient access, patient flow, patient satisfaction surveys, procedure flow, supply flow, staff circle of work and electronic needs. The assessment of this information enabled us to design a space that created a 54 per cent improvement in clinical efficiencies which translate into more timely service for our patients.

Other changes associated with this transformation include the recent installation of a state-of-the-art 3.0T clinical MRI scanner. The addition of a second scanner will improve access to MRI services and decrease wait times for the community. We have also transitioned the department from a “filmless” to a completely digital environment where all images are acquired and stored electronically.

The Ontario Breast Screening Program will also be incorporated into the new Women’s Health Centre. According to Wormald, “This expansion will allow us to continue supporting the privacy and confidentiality of women during these sensitive and often anxious imaging procedures.”

“This wellness program will also incorporate a rapid diagnostic assessment unit for breast diseases as breast MRI and MRI guided breast biopsies (the first in our region) will now form part of this new centre,” says Dr. Franic. “These procedures are often used in some cases where traditional imaging may not be capable of resolving an issue. As a result, SJHH will now offer the most comprehensive breast care in our community. This ability, greatly improves the planning and effectiveness in treatment offered by our surgical colleagues. I am confident that our new DI facility shall potentiate our corporate goal to improve service excellence across all medical fields at St. Joseph’s Healthcare.”