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High-tech Humber River hospital set to open

Humber River RegionalTORONTO – The new Humber River Hospital, scheduled to open October 18, is being called North America’s first fully digital hospital. Not only does it use the most modern technologies to enhance all aspects of quality care delivery and to improve efficiency and accuracy, but all of the computerized systems are said to be connected.

As a result, the hospital says, patients will receive better care through enhanced communication, instant access to information and automation of activities across the hospital.

For example, these digital technologies will include:
• Robots, or automated guided vehicles, which pick up and deliver supplies, linens and non-narcotic drugs throughout the hospital.
• A pneumatic network will deliver tubes containing smaller packages throughout the hospital.
• Self-serve kiosks that allow patients to check-in, and will notify the relevant care teams when they’ve arrived.
• Immediate charting of diagnostic images for real-time remote consultation with experts.
• Automated climate and lighting controls.
• When a hospital staffer enters a patient’s room, the patient can see on his TV screen who that staffer is, complete with picture. The TV will also offer many other interactive features, such as the ability to see medical charts and order meals.
• Clinicians will be able to work at the wall screen, if needed, so they don’t disrupt the patient who is busy at the bedside terminal.
• Physicians will be able to do ordering on systems throughout the hospital, including their smartphones.
• Medication orders will be checked at the bedside using bar-coded systems.

The design of the facility is unique, too. It features an airport-terminal style of design that has various drop-off points for different departments, meaning the walk to where you’re going once you’re dropped off is never more than 32 feet.

Although the hospital is huge at 1.8 million square feet (bigger than the Eaton Centre mall, in downtown Toronto), the workplaces are designed for efficiency and staff are all supplied with handheld devices, to reduce “sneaker time.”

In the current three hospitals the new hospital is replacing, nurses are walking about 5.4 km a day, and if nothing changed in this new hospital, they’d be walking more than 11. The expectation is the new design will keep the distance at 5.4 or lower.

80 percent of the rooms in this 656-bed hospital are singles. The new Humber River Hospital will use 35 per cent less water and will boast 100 per cent fresh air throughout. It’s going to save about $90 million in energy costs over 30 years.

Every system in the hospital will be electronic and integrated together, a first for a North American hospital, according to Humber CEO Dr. Rueben Devlin.

For example, administration of medication will be fully automated, with all pill packages, staff and patients bar-coded to make sure patients are getting what they’re supposed to. It’s an example of how the new technology is going to improve patient safety, Devlin said.

“I think people have read about medication errors and our objective is to have zero medication errors and with this I believe we’re on the way to doing that.”

The aim as they designed this hospital was to make it efficient, green and digital, he said.

“We really looked at what the future of healthcare was like and what we could do to make efficiencies.”

Devlin said the move toward a new hospital started about 15 years ago. The project was approved in 2005, the site was approved two years later and construction began in 2011.

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