An Ontario health-care organization is turning the construction of a new hospital into an opportunity for offering built-in electronic information exchange.
Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) isn’t due to open its doors for another year and a half, but it has already decided to set up 500 Telus integrated beside terminals (IBTs) developed in partnership with Siemens Canada. PRHC is being built with Ellis Don, which proposed the technology early in the project’s development and is managing the IT budget for the facility.
The IBT consists of a metal arm attached to a 15-inch flatscreen LCD panel which uses an IP network to access to corporate data and applications. It will also be used to offer patients TV, radio and Internet access. PRHC is investing approximately $11 million in technology under the eight-year contract it has signed with Telus.
Tom Holden, PRHC’s vice-president of planning, said not all bed spaces will get an IBT. The metal arm might pose risks for patients in the mental health services area, for example, but health-care providers in those areas might use other technologies such as a “computer on wheels” setup, he said.
“The IBT solution cannot be a standalone solution for sharing medical information and documentation. It has to be complemented with something,” he said.
Although the use of clinical data is an obvious possibility for the IBT, it isn’t the only one. Holden said the hospital might make it available to cleaning staff to punch in a confirmation when a room has been cleaned up. The terminals could also be used to store special meal information rather than relying on error-prone paper charts.
“Our initial concept was only to have televisions by the bedside,” he said. “We were looking on how to introduce new cabling, when Ellis Don suggested there might be an opportunity to expand the services.”
Barry Rivelis, vice-president of Telus Business Solutions, said Telus is aiming the IBT primarily at new hospitals, rather than facilities that have already made substantial investments in other parts of their IT infrastructure. There may also be some demand from aging hospitals that want to retrofit their buildings, he added.
“It’s an issue of timing,” he said. “If you’re talking about an area in the hospital with 95 per cent utilization, to take a room offline is not only a cost decision but care decision.”
PRHC is still working out the details around how health-care providers would log on to the IBT and securely manage the data. Patients, however, would have control over the media and entertainment applications they choose. The IBT also has USB ports to add an iPod, Xbox or other devices.
Rivelis said PRHC could look at loading CDs with content on a server and serve it to all patients that need to know specific medical information. If a patient was recovering from heart surgery, for example and was nearing discharge, they could learn about nutrition and exercise guidelines in a video or have the information e-mailed to their home account.