Halton Healthcare wins award for advanced solutions
November 21, 2018
OAKVILLE, Ont. – Halton Healthcare has won the Information Technology Association of Canada’s Ingenious Award for Large Public Sector organizations. The hospital won for its Smart Hospitals Enabling Exemplary Patient Experiences initiative.
The ITAC Ingenious Awards program was launched in 2011 to recognize excellence and innovation in the use of information and communications technology (ICT) by organizations in all walks of Canadian life to solve problems, improve performance, introduce new services and grow businesses.
Sandy Saggar (pictured), chief information officer of Halton Healthcare, said the hospital’s idea was to give patients a quieter environment, one that resembles a healing centre. “We didn’t want it to feel like a hospital … we used to have a lot more overhead calling … if there’s an incident, or an event, or someone’s having a cardiac arrest, we wanted to make sure there was effective communication to the response team,” he said.
Saggar adds that mostly everything in the hospital is connected through technology. That includes items such as mobile phones, patient care equipment, and the real-time locating system, which are all interconnected through Cisco’s infrastructure.
There are three facilities operated by Halton Healthcare in Southern Ontario (Georgetown, Oakville, and Milton). Saggar said the team took 10 years to plan and build the Oakville and Milton locations and they wanted to build technology into the foundation of the building, rather than have to do upgrades after construction.
“The biggest challenge we had in planning for a smart hospital was, ‘Are we going to be outdated by the time the shovels hit the ground?’” Saggar observed, adding that the hospital wanted to make sure it was investing $3.36 billion in capital redevelopment across all three sites effectively. He said the team was careful in ensuring the technology was deployable an interoperable.
In total, Halton Healthcare has 4,022 staff and 350 physicians. The new and expanded hospitals have a range of facilities that Saggar said were implemented through lots of research, talking to staff, physicians and the community.
“We did a lot of engagement internally and out in the industry like going to conferences,” he said. “We would go to these large-scale healthcare IT conferences to be able to understand the art of the possible, what’s up and coming.”
From hospital beds to patient-nurse communication, Saggar explained that the hospital took a lot of effort to create a smart hospital that would keep up with the changes in technology.
The hospital incorporated Cisco’s software including VCE Vblock System, Aironet Wireless Access Points and Controllers, Unified Communications Manager, and ASA Firewalls, among others.
For example, the hospital can tag and track specific at-risk patients. So, if a patient has dementia and is at risk and attempts to leave the floor, the elevators won’t function, and doors will automatically lock; in turn, an alarm will be sent to security, who will receive a notification on their phone. There’s also real-time locating services for staff who are at risk.
“You may have a patient who is being violent. Well, if you press a button on your tag, we know where you are in the building, and so your peers on the floor and security will get an alarm right to their phone and they can go directly to the location and assist,” Saggar said.