Smart Operating Rooms Are Coming to Community Hospitals

Smart technology is ubiquitous today but the best example in the modern hospital is the smart operating room (OR). Once found in only a few large academic medical centers, the technology is showing up in the surgical suites at mid-sized community hospitals like the 344-bed Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Just a few years ago, it was unthinkable that a community hospital like Sacred Heart Hospital could be one of the first in the country to use a technology configuration that includes the iCT (intra-operative computed tomography) and iMRI (intra-operative magnetic resonance imaging) for both diagnostic and surgical use. At Sacred Heart Hospital, patient treatment using advanced technology has improved quality out-comes and reduced the need for additional surgeries. It also has given the hospital state-of-the-art tools that have enabled it to draw top medical and surgical talent to the region.

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Wearable Wireless Monitoring Sensor Now Available in Japan

Wearable SensorWIN Human Recorder Co Ltd, a Japan-based firm, has introduced a new health monitoring service to keep an eye on a person’s health by capturing data like electrocardiographic signals and body surface temperature, and then wirelessly transmitting that data to a mobile phone or computer where a professional or family member can access it remotely. The company commercialized the health monitoring system, which is called the “human recorder system,” based on the research results of the Advanced Institute of Wearable Information Networks (WIN), a nonprofit organization established by researchers at the University of Tokyo. WIN is a group led by Kiyoshi Itao, professor emeritus at the university.

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More Hospitals Are Renovating to Accommodate the Obese

Bariatric ChairNovation, a medical supply contracting company, has released its 2010 Bariatric Report, a nationwide survey of about 300 VHA Inc. and University Health System Consortium member hospitals, confirming that the obesity epidemic poses new and significant challenges to U.S. hospitals. According to this survey, over 48 percent of the respondents saw an increase in admissions of morbidly obese patients since 2008 while 13 percent saw a significant increase. Moreover, 28 percent of the respondent hospitals reported having invested in physical renovations of their facilities last year to accommodate the morbidly obese with another 8 percent saying that they planned to do so. Novation reports that hospitals have been buying specialized medical equipment such as bariatric blood pressure cuffs, bariatric beds and mattresses, stretchers, operating room tables, and non-clinical furniture. While the industry has seen an overall decrease in spending on renovations and building improvements due to the still recovering economy, physical renovations to accommodate bariatric patients have increased — such as widening door openings, installing higher-load steel toilets, providing open showers, and purchasing new seating for patients and family members.

Redefining Patient-Centered Care

A lot has changed since the concept of patient-centered care was first introduced several decades ago. The old definition of patient-centered care used to be bringing care of the patient to the bedside. That model ― which included decentralizing diagnostic equipment, pharmacies, and supply rooms to each inpatient floor ― proved too costly both from a facility and labor perspective. Today, the patient-centered care concept has moved to a relationship-based care model focused on orienting a health care organization around the preferences and needs of patients with the intention of improving the patient’s satisfaction with care and improving his or her clinical outcome. Today, the definition has also been expanded to include family members and is often referred to as the patient- and family-centered care (PFCC) model.

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Pharmacy Automation is Being Used Throughout the Healthcare Facility

Pharmacy automation is becoming commonplace in many healthcare facilities including point-of-care medication dispensing devices located on nursing units Pyxis Machineand in other acute care areas, controlled substance dispensing and tracking systems, centralized robotic dispensing devices, and similar devices to support ambulatory care.

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Incorporating the Parking Garage Into Disaster Planning

Parking GargeThe cars, minivans and sports-utility vehicles began lining up and slowly moving forward, just as they would at a busy fast food drive-thru. But there weren’t any burgers or fries on the menu. Instead, drivers and passengers were examined by a team of Stanford doctors and nurses, all without getting out of their cars. In what is believed to be the first training exercise in the country, a team of healthcare professionals at Stanford Hospital and Clinics turned the first floor of a parking garage into a drive-through emergency room in hopes of creating a more efficient way to treat a large number of patients during an influenza pandemic or other emergency. The hospital’s medical director for disaster planning believes that drive-through triage can serve as a blueprint for hospitals nationwide and across the globe. During the flu season, emergency departments are bursting at the seams as people with limited health insurance use the emergency department as their primary care physician. According to Dr. Eric Weiss, medical director of disaster planning at Stanford Hospital and Clinics and Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital: “We have to have a new mechanism to take care of large numbers of patients during a pandemic and I think that this is going to be it.”

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