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

By Tom Barnett

In 2006, our IT department was offered theopportunity of a lifetime. The Michigan-based health caresystem where I work had just broken groundon an exciting new project.The objective was to build a state-of-the-art hospital that would fuse thecutting-edgehealth care of the Henry Ford Health System with the hospitality and service ofthe world?s finest hotels.

This was an ambitious project,to say the least. The IT team?s job was to plan, design andinstall all the information technology for thenew facility. This was a huge undertaking, but it was more rewarding than weever imagined.

Twenty-fivemiles northwest of Detroit is the township of West Bloomfield, Mich.,where Henry Ford Health Systemalready had a large ambulatory clinicsituated on 160 acres of woodlands andwetlands. The hospital planning team decided to expand from the existingambulatory facility and build a 300-bedin-patient hospital that would be built around the patient instead ofthe clinician.

The motto for the new Henry Ford WestBloomfield Hospitalwas to ?takehealth care beyond the bounds of imagination.?

As the directorfor the IT program, I had the luxuryof being able to plan the program before physicalconstruction was under way. Two-and-a-halfyears before the opening of the hospital, we started building the IT program

Our core IT team scoped and sized the programand then tackled whatwould need to be built.

Among the noteworthyaspects of the program were the numerous facilitated sessions withproxies.Although wewere building a hospital, the actual departmental employeeswould not be hiredfor another two years. As a result, we were gathering requirements, walkingthrough floor plans and checking likely workflow processmodels with equivalent staff from other Henry Ford HealthSystem hospitals.

One helpfulfeature that Henry Ford Health System and the construction company came up withwas the use ofactual full-size patient rooms constructed in a local industrial building?thatincluded both general patient intensive-careunits. Thesemock-ups,along with their emergency room counterparts, gaveus flexibility in trying outtechnology with our proxy health careproviders.

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 itis difficult to approximateclinicians? needsonce they are in the finished hospital. Teams can predict how clinicians arelikely to behave, buttechnology needs to adapt to changing workflows.So we met with pathology clinicians, pharmacists, nurses, case managersand others to plan.

Somebasic planning pieces are critical to the success ofany program. First among these for uswas the work breakdown structure (WBS). In one diagram, we could breakdown at a high level what we were to deliver for the hospital. From the WBS,we were able to logically group similar work intosubprojects and know that allthe work was covered by someone?s project plan.

The WBS included areas for infrastructure,wireless, computing devices and networks. Italso covered applicationssuch as revenue,clinical and diagnostic systems.

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

The construction contractor already had adetailed building plan that crews were workingfrom. This would provide key input into the IT plan because the sequencing andtiming of the cable installation teams had to closely follow those of otherbuilding mechanicals, such as HVAC,plumbing andelectrical systems Thiswould allowcabling tobe completed before walls and drop ceilings were installed.