Bringing a Smart Room to Life: A Peek Behind the Curtain at MUSC’s New Children’s Hospital (Part 2 of 3)

In part one of the Patient Room of the Future series, I shared a high-level overview of the next-generation patient environment and spotlighted some of the emerging technologies in the latest iterations on the concept. We also previewed the work Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is doing to bridge the physical and digital worlds in their own patient room of the future.

Get the full article compendium: PATIENT ROOM OF THE FUTURE

In this installment, we’re going behind the scenes for a unique glimpse into MUSC’s endeavor. I’ve had the unique opportunity to take part in their project as a partner on the team of technology vendors brought together to achieve a first-of-its-kind approach to interoperability. With help from MUSC’s Brett Seyfried, associate CIO, infrastructure and Mark A. Scheurer, M.D., Chief of Children’s and Women’s Health, we’ll dive deeper into the process for bringing a smart patient room to life using their new children’s hospital as the backdrop.

Catalyzed by construction of Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, MUSC set out to build a forward-looking facility that would take engagement to another level. Set to open October 2019, the ground up design and construction centers on the patient and family experience. “We didn’t want to just engage the patient differently. We wanted to engage the clinicians differently,” Brett Seyfried said in MUSC’s GetConnected 2018 keynote presentation. “We wanted to engage everyone who walks into that room at a different level than we had in the past.”

“We didn’t want to just engage the patient differently. We wanted to engage the clinicians differently. We wanted to engage everyone who walks into that room at a different level than we had in the past.”

Foster human connections

The 625,000-square-foot hospital reimagines an environment where human-centered design principles converge with emerging technologies to give patients choice, control and comfort — key components in the healing process.

By the International Organization for Standardization’s definition, human-centered design is “an approach to interactive systems development that aims to make systems usable and useful by focusing on the users, their needs and requirements….”

Translated within a hospital setting, it becomes a creative approach to problem-solving that starts with the people you’re designing for — looking closely at how environments promote their healing and comfort — and ends with solutions tailored to meet their needs.

From technology to physical space design, this idea of creating a room that would meet the needs of patients, families and clinicians alike became the core of MUSC’s planning strategy and central to their mission.

Level up the patient experience

So, where do you start when endeavoring to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds? How can technology inspire human connection and give patients and families more control over their environment? What goes into a holistic design that promotes transparency, access, inclusion, and engagement?

To be able to answer these questions, MUSC had to first consider this one:

What do patients need experientially, not just clinically, to get better?

And so, the journey to the summit began with an all-inclusive effort to gain a deeper understanding of the important, yet largely overlooked role the patient room plays in positive outcomes. All 26 planning teams included a nurse, doctor, and parent working alongside planners, designers, and architects. “We’ve integrated everyone’s input in a very intentional and purposeful way, and we’ve carried the communication process into the build,” Dr. Scheurer says.  Involving the people that the 10-story hospital would ultimately serve — from concept to completion — was critical to realizing a state-of-the-art facility that could truly deliver the most comprehensive and compassionate family-centered care.

Through a series of visioning sessions, the teams began by plotting out the ideal patient experience. From when the experience starts through to discharge, and even the patient’s next appointment — what does the patient need to know and what do clinicians need to have at their fingertips as they walk through their day? The teams also considered how to make every detail of a stay responsive to the unique needs and customized preferences of the child and their family. Essentially, they wanted to introduce a “hotel-like” experience to a hospital environment.

Draft the technology blueprint

After mapping the ideal experience, the questions turned to the technology in the room. What elements would have to exist to bring this vision to life? One thing was clear, interoperability would be key. Also significant to the project team was the decision to create infrastructure that could adapt over time rather than try to predict what IT capabilities would be important in the future.

To create the personalized, preference-driven experience they’re after, MUSC is embracing future-forward technology like cloud computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence and the “internet of things.” Fully executing the plans also meant tackling the first-of-its-kind push to get currently siloed systems like telemedicine, interactive media, multicasting, and asset tracking to function together in one ecosystem. “How do we seamlessly integrate these different pieces of hardware or technology to create an experience that no one has done before?” asked Seyfried during the initial planning process.

This is the second in a three-part blog series on “Building the patient room of the future, today.” Read part one here and read part three here.