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Three Fundamentals When Designing for Digital Care

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media, November 10, 2009

I had the pleasure of moderating the design panel for the HealthLeaders Media Hospital of the Future Now conference held in Chicago last month. One of the learning objectives that was discussed is how should organizations be designing or renovating their facilities so they are equipped for a digital healthcare system. Here are some highlights of that discussion.

Greg Walton, chief information officer at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, CA, shared his vision of the future and how healthcare organizations should start preparing now. "The world you are going to design for is going to be a different world than we live in today," he says. "One principal is information will be everywhere and it will be extremely mobile."

Recently, Walton had the experience of both retrofitting an older hospital and building a state-of-the-art facility from the ground up. The new facility, El Camino Hospital Mountain View will be opening its doors next week on November 15. He discussed some characteristics of that facility and how they fit into his vision of the future, for instance:

Everything is on the network. Not just the standard things like air conditioning and security, but even the fountain out in front of the hospital is on the network.

It has biometric patient identification system. "Patients love it, because in this era of identity theft we don't have to guess who you are—we can confirm who you are," says Walton.

It has a fleet of robots. Walton predicts the use of more robots in the future—not just for transportation, but for clinical applications, as well.

Patient rooms designed like a television studio. "People will expect world wide communication with their families," he says. "If you go to colleges today and talk to freshman, they are all Skyping, which is a video system on the Internet." Having the ability to provide those types of services from the patient's room will be the norm, he says.

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