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Halton’s new hospital employs state-of-the-art technologies

The new Oakville Hospital, which opens December 13th after four years of construction, is using a combination of organizational innovation and technological wizardry to provide the best patient care possible.

While the hospital may be huge – it’s 1.6 million-square feet – management is taking special measures to ensure the needs of each and every patient are met.

For that reason, instead of traditional nursing units, where one main nursing station serves as a hub for an entire unit, the inpatient units at the new Oakville Hospital are using a more innovative design, called ‘nursing pods’.

Each 36-bed in-patient unit is divided into three, 12-bed pods, with one team per pod. Each pod is set up with its own computerized workstations, communications systems and dedicated supplies and equipment. Nurses will be responsible for the patients within their assigned pod.

This is expected to be a more effective method of caring for patients, since 80 percent of the rooms at the new hospital are single occupancy. While better for infection control and patient privacy, the units need to be significantly larger than at the older hospital.

The decentralized pod system re-organizes the large units into more manageable spaces.

“Nurses have more time to spend at the bedside,” said Inderjit Sahota, Halton Healthcare Services (HHS) Professional Practice Clinician, Operational Readiness, Medicine. “They can more easily see and monitor their patients, attend to their needs and help ensure their safety. They will also be more available to work with families, address their concerns and answer their questions.”

For the nurses, it’s a practical way of managing the space.

“Having everything close by or within each pod will also reduce walking distances for nurses and other caregivers,” notes Andrew McGarrity, Halton Healthcare Patient Care Manager, Patient Care Unit. “Ultimately this will translate into to a better hospital experience for our patients and their families and improved patient satisfaction.”

The pod system was tested at the Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital legacy site to ensure its effectiveness and to train staff in the new way of working. The pilot project was one of many operational readiness activities that took place to ensure a seamless transition to the new hospital.

Another important pilot centred on technology – in particular, the use of electronic nursing unit dashboards, mobile apps and a capacity management solution, all provided by McKesson and referred to as the McKesson Performance Visibility solution. The solution enables staff and management to see at a glance whether beds are occupied, unoccupied or in need of prep for patients.

The system also shows when patients are expected to be discharged, and if they’re still in beds after the expected discharge date.

The hospital has been testing the solution since July 2014, so that staff and clinicians would be well acquainted with it. At the end of the pilot project, “Our staff didn’t want to stop using it,” said Susan Bisaillon, Chief Operating Officer, Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital.

“One of the goals of the system, once it is fully implemented,” she said, “will be to provide increased visualization of our patient movement and activity that will support access and flow across units and departments in the hospital.”

McKesson Performance Visibility will help track patients as they move from the old hospital to the new one. “We’ll even be able to track when they’re in the ambulance, on the way, and we’ll be able to tell how long they’re out there,” commented Carole Moore, Chief Operating Officer, New Hospital Transitions.

She noted that patient transfers have been a “pain point” for other hospitals that have opened new facilities – especially when patients took longer than expected to arrive. “It’s an uncomfortable feeling when you don’t know where your patients are – and there are issues for some of them when they’re out too long.”

The new Oakville Hospital is the first in Canada to deploy the solution on iPads, iPods and iPhones, noted Steve Lawrence, National Business Development Executive for McKesson Canada. “The solution is usually deployed on large, 65-inch screens and wall-mounted touch screens, as well as on desktops.

The addition of mobile devices is designed to increase productivity. Porters and cleaning staff will be able to receive and respond to orders on the go, instead of looking for the nearest workstation or touch screens.

Clinical and administrative staff will also be able to check the status of patients and the availability of beds, wherever they are in the hospital, by using their smartphones or tablets.

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