Deploying State-of-the-Art Technology at a New Hospital

By Tom Barnett Print this article Print

The objective was to build a state-of-the-art hospital that would fuse cutting-edge health care with the hospitality and service of the world’s finest hotels.

By Tom Barnett

In 2006, our IT department was offered the opportunity of a lifetime. The Michigan-based health care system where I work had just broken ground on an exciting new project. The objective was to build a state-of-the-art hospital that would fuse the cutting-edge health care of the Henry Ford Health System with the hospitality and service of the world’s finest hotels.

This was an ambitious project, to say the least. The IT team’s job was to plan, design and install all the information technology for the new facility. This was a huge undertaking, but it was more rewarding than we ever imagined.

Twenty-five miles northwest of Detroit is the township of West Bloomfield, Mich., where Henry Ford Health System already had a large ambulatory clinic situated on 160 acres of woodlands and wetlands. The hospital planning team decided to expand from the existing ambulatory facility and build a 300-bed in-patient hospital that would be  built around the patient instead of the clinician.

The motto for the new Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital was to “take health care beyond the bounds of imagination.”

As the director for the IT program, I had the luxury of being able to plan the program before physical construction was under way. Two-and-a-half years before the opening of the hospital, we started building the IT program

Our core IT team scoped and sized the program and then tackled what would need to be built.

Among the noteworthy aspects of the program were the numerous facilitated sessions with proxies. Although we were building a hospital, the actual departmental employees would not be hired for another two years. As a result, we were gathering requirements, walking through floor plans and checking likely workflow process models with equivalent staff from other Henry Ford Health System hospitals.

One helpful feature that Henry Ford Health System and the construction company came up with was the use of actual full-size patient rooms constructed in a local industrial building—that included both general patient  intensive-care units. These mock-ups, along with their emergency room counterparts , gave us flexibility in trying out technology with our proxy health care providers.

What would work and what wouldn’t? How much space would it take up? Was it clumsy or awkward?

One thing to keep in mind is that it is difficult to approximate clinicians’ needs once they are in the finished hospital. Teams can predict how clinicians are likely to behave, but technology needs to adapt to changing workflows. So we met with pathology clinicians, pharmacists, nurses, case managers and others to plan.

S ome basic planning pieces are critical to the success of any program. First among these for us was the work breakdown structure (WBS). In one diagram, we could break down at a high level what we were to deliver for the hospital. From the WBS, we were able to logically group similar work into subprojects and know that all the work was covered by someone’s project plan.

The WBS included areas for infrastructure, wireless, computing devices and networks. It also covered applications such as revenue, clinical and diagnostic systems.

Next was the integrated program schedule.The IT program plan had to bridge the gap between the construction plan and the staffing and hospital activation plans.

The construction contractor already had a detailed building plan that crews were working from. This would provide key input into the IT plan because the sequencing and timing of the cable installation teams had to closely follow those of other building mechanicals, such as HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems This would allow cabling to be completed before walls and drop ceilings were installed.

This article was originally published on 2012-05-10
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