Technical Systems in Healthcare
Technological advances and the digitalization of the healthcare industry are revolutionizing hospital design and planning. At WSP we understand how technology is impacting healthcare operators and their facilities, not only by improving patient care, but also by creating better buildings that are smarter, more efficient and more economical to operate. We advocate the early engagement of a technology specialist to integrate technology into hospital design to support hospital operations and the roles of the care givers.
The challenges of Digitalization
In this digital age, healthcare facilities are now reliant on technology and all new developments and retrofit or brownfield sites face the same challenges. As we introduce more and more systems, whether for patient care, administration or buildings management, there is a risk that, due to a lack of integration and planning, we increase care givers’ workload rather than facilitating their work. It is vital that a development is underpinned by its functional requirements, facilitated by the technology, not driven by it, and with all parts working together to support two key objectives – to increase the time that care givers have for their patients and to make hospital operations commercially viable.
Through involvement in the early masterplanning stage, our technology specialists work closely with the client to develop a technology masterplan that covers all the functional objectives of the healthcare facility. In this way all the technological requirements can be incorporated into the architectural and fabric of the building and budgeted-for from the outset. For example, we worked closely with internal stakeholders at the Sydney Adventist Hospital, which is at the forefront of integrating technology in healthcare facilities in Australia, to achieve their goal to realize the benefits of a digital technology for optimum operation of a new clinical services building.
Technology can impact the design of every part of a healthcare facility. For example, in-room care and entertainment systems may dictate the shape and size of the room; the size and quantity of robotic pharmacy systems could affect the location and width of corridors and how circulation paths are designed; and space may be required for data and communications centres, with appropriate air conditioning to keep the IT and data equipment at the optimum operating temperature.
Planning also needs to take into account the support required for digital medicine. To ensure 100% up-time of life-critical functions and procedures such as robotic surgery, there is a need for reliable, real-time connectivity, physical space for the machines and an uninterrupted power supply and back-up generators. At Box Hill Hospital, our involvement ensured that the right space and base infrastructure and systems were in place to enable the digital operating theatres to evolve in the future without having to be re-built each time there was a change in technology.
Our role also covers the technology associated with a building’s operational efficiency. Thanks to our team’s innovative and collaborative thinking from the start of design of the Dell Children’s Medical Centre in Dallas, the owners were able to create one of the most energy-efficient hospitals in the world, and the first globally to achieve platinum-level LEED accreditation, as well as saving $8M in capital outlay through an innovative power, heating and chilled water outsourcing initiative.
Our role as technology consultants also involves the development of a single, unified technology services offering, in which all systems are integrated with each other. These services include audiovisual and security systems, autonomous systems and robotics, automation and intelligence, information and communication technologies, data gathering and analytics.
Accounting for Future Trends
The forecasted trends in advanced technology for hospital developments show how crucial it is for technology to be a core part of the early phase masterplanning, allowing for cost, risk and spatial allowances and operational methodologies to be agreed upon prior to the design development stage. With early planning, our technology consultants can help make hospital operations better, more cost-effective and faster, helping our clients, whether in the private or public healthcare sectors, achieve a competitive edge in patient care.