November 19, 2019

Stanford Health Care on Sunday opened a new $2.1 billion facility that's using Apple as inspiration for making "the hospital more hospitable," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Innovation 101: Cheat sheets for today's digital world

Stanford has been planning the new facility for more than a decade, according to the Journal, and on Sunday, to mark the opening, hospital staff transferred about 200 patients over a sky bridge that connects the old building with the new one. All patients housed in the old building were expected to be transferred to the new hospital by the end of the day.

Stanford Health Care President and CEO David Entwistle said there was "a sense of excitement," surrounding the grand opening of the hospital that required more than 1,000 meetings and 10 years of planning. "I was thinking, 'Wow, we finally accomplished something that is an incredible milestone for not only what we can do for our patients, but really for the community, and even for Stanford Campus.'"

The new building

The new building was built with a focus on not just clinical needs but on the experience of patients and their caregivers, according to the Journal.

The building includes 368 single-patient rooms, 20 ORs, and a 76-bay trauma center, as well as about four acres of outdoor gardens and walking paths. Over the next four years, the old hospital will be upgraded and converted into a cancer facility and the ED at the hospital will be converted into a pediatric unit.

The entire third floor of the hospital, was designed for patients' loved ones and staff members. It houses a caregiver resource center that will provide patients and their families with supplemental information about their condition, according to Alpa Vyas, VP of patient experience at Stanford Health Care. At the resource center, health librarians can conduct custom research for patients and families, Vyas explained.

Vyas said the hope is that the hospital's design, which includes colorful artwork and an interfaith chapel, will bring "some level of normalcy to a situation that isn't always normal." Commenting on the gardens, she added that the space is "kind of contemplative place…where [people] can be away from sometimes the very busy, stressful environment of where care is actually being delivered."

The new technology

Another key feature of the facility is a focus on technological adaptability, the Journal reports. The facility was built to easily adapt as technology upgrades, according to Rafael Vinoly, the architect behind the project.

And like Apple products, the design of the new hospital prioritizes user interface, according to Ron Johnson, former SVP of retail operations at Apple, who advised on the project.

Gary Fritz, chief of applications for Stanford Health, said, "We tried to build a technology infrastructure that would…make it easier and friendlier to be a patient and clinician, and support healing." He added, "It's like when you experience Apple iPhone design or Amazon design. It's a natural way to do the things you need to do."

According to the Journal, the hospital is complimented by an app called MyHealth, which helps patients navigate treatment by facilitating communication between them and physicians. Through the app, patients can track their health records, schedule appointments, and connect with their care team. The app also tracks whether patients are in the hospital or off campus, and offers patients who are on campus detailed maps of the facility.

According to the Journal, other innovative technologies at the new hospital include a "robotic pharmacy." The pharmacy is manned by robots made by Swisslog Holding AG that put prescription pills in bags with bar codes that match each patient, freeing up pharmacy staff to work on more complicated tasks. The medication orders can then be delivered by a "fleet" of automated guided vehicles to dispense stations around the hospital. Other automated guided vehicles will assist in delivering laundry and getting rid of trash, the Journal reports.

The hospital will also deploy sensors to track hospital staff and equipment in real time to improve efficiency and better monitor inventory. According to the Journal, the sensor infrastructure "can support 120,000 connected devices streaming 4K high-definition video" and "will be able to accommodate updates such as 5G wireless." In addition, clinicians will have the ability to monitor multiple patients "from a single remote location," the Journal reports. And to reduce the hospital's noise levels, alarms and alerts for patients will go directly to clinicians' "secure mobile devices," instead of sounding at nursing stations, according to the Journal.

The next project is a bedside computer-vision system that uses thermal and depth sensors to detect movement and improve patient safety, according to the Journal. The hospital is testing the system in two patient rooms (Rosenbush, Wall Street Journal, 11/16; Geha, Mercury News, 11/17; Ellison, Becker's Hospital Review, 11/15; Bach, Stanford release, 11/18).

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