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New Parkland Memorial Hospital Nears Completion

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 20 Jan 2015
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Image: The new Parkland Memorial Hospital (Photo courtesy of Parkland Memorial Hospital).
Image: The new Parkland Memorial Hospital (Photo courtesy of Parkland Memorial Hospital).
At nearly twice the size of the current hospital, the new Parkland Memorial Hospital (Dallas, TX, USA) will be one of the first “digital hospitals” in the United States.

The new hospital, built at an investment of USD 1.3 billion, towers 17 stories high. The 862 single-patient rooms all have private bathrooms and space for families and visitors, but what makes it stand out from other hospitals is a completely integrated digital system that controls nearly every aspect of its operations. Visitors will sign in at touch-screen kiosks, which guide them from the lobby to their destinations in the hospital’s public areas. Patients will lie in smart beds that can weigh them and alert a nurse if they get up. Hospital corridors will be lined with 1,200 video cameras that can detect movement in any direction.

But the digital technology permeates down to treatment protocols as well. The 2,500 nurses will receive hand-held digital devices that will alert them to patients’ needs, connect to medical and billing records, and enable them to communicate with other caregivers. Instead of waiting for a patient to summon them, nurses will be automatically alerted by monitoring equipment in the room which will inform them if an intravenous (IV) bag is empty, or if a patient’s blood pressure is rising. Some information, such as hourly blood-pressure readings, will go directly into patients’ medical records.

Electronic displays outside inpatient rooms in the new building ensure health care providers have the latest details about each patient prior to entering the room. To automate as much as possible, radiofrequency identification (RFID) tags will be used to track mobile medical equipment. This will make it easier to find the equipment, and should also prevent thefts. Newborn will also get their own tracking system, with each infant’s umbilical cord tagged at birth, allowing the infant to be tracked within secure areas of the hospital. It also will be matched to the mother, reducing potential mix-ups.

“It’s an apples-to-watermelons move—larger scale and new and advanced capability. All of the technologies have merits to themselves, but the objective was to harmonize them to each other,” said Joe Longo, Parkland’s assistant vice president of information technology. “Every bed is on the digital network with all its electronic information. The bed can create an alert to the nurse’s call system, which says, ‘You need to go see the patient.’ And the bed can shift a patient to remove the risk of bedsores.”

“The new hospital will be similar to a smart home; all the digital devices in a smart home can talk to each other because they’re connected to a common hub. That’s not unlike what we do, only we’re much bigger,” said Fernando Martinez, the hospital’s chief information officer. “Information, however, can cause ‘alert fatigue’, a feeling of being inundated with data to the point where the caregiver stops paying attention. So we take a tiered approach, where the high-impact alerts go first.”

The new building also promotes an “environment of healing” by incorporating natural lighting and a wellness garden. The main hospital building was completed in December 2014, and will welcome its first patients by May 2015.

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Parkland Memorial Hospital

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