Getronics Canada Inc. has developed a hospital IP solution that allows doctors to do rounds electronically and at the same time provide patients with a host of interactive services, including video on demand and touch-screen meal service.


IT service provider’s solution is the focus of a pilot trial at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, which has plans for an October implementation.

“”I call it my patient communications centre,”” says St. Mike’s CIO John Wegener. He says the solution works for the hospital in three ways. On one hand, it is an entertainment centre that delivers to the patient video-on-demand, cable television, Internet and voice-over Internet Protocol telephony.

“”There’s a camera built into it, so mothers, for example, with an IP camera over the baby, they’ll be able to view the baby remotely,”” Wegener says.

For doctors, the solution means recording patient status and drug prescriptions electronically. And on the administrative side, the solution enables express checkout, electronic meal requests and electronic educational programs for patients on everything from drug addiction to neonatal care.

“”We’re able to provide three basic things at the bedside: care, comfort and convenience,”” says Bruce Yott, director of marketing for Getronics Canada.

The solution was developed with Toronto’s Visx Systems Inc. and Viewsonic Corp., of Richmond Hill, Ont.

Visx provided the software that distributes different channels to different IP connections and Viewsonic provided the network connection and camera-equipped touch-screen display PC, which Yott says had to be intuitive enough for all patients to use.

“”We knew we needed to span the language barrier, the age barrier,”” he says. ‘We have older people who might be scared of technology.””

As such, a service is accessible by touching one of the screen’s very large icons. Access for both patients and doctors is achieved with key cards, which for patients, will be bought like phone cards, most probably from a vending machine or hospital gift shop.

Should St. Mike’s implement the Getronics solution (the hospital has an RFP out, though Wegener says there is a lack of contenders), it will be run on the same utility basis as the hospital’s network. Getronics will set up the infrastructure and recoup its investment from the sale of pre-paid cards.

“”The benefits of the utility model is that don’t have to come up with capital costs and it’s based on an SLA (service level agreement),”” Wegener says. He says this will ensure both capacity and service quality.

Wegener expects the implementation to come in stages, with clinical systems, menu ordering and entertainment services to be offered first.


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