More technology means more coordination, but also more opportunities for patient safety, patient satisfaction, and staff efficiency for the hospital. I am working on the technical coordination for the construction of a 295,000-square-foot patient tower that will be added to an existing hospital campus. We just counted up 36 points of technology occurring in our typical patient care spaces—devices that are controllable, interactive, data-generating, and/or alarm-generating, including the "smart" bed, nursecall devices, IT network devices, interactive patient television, physiological monitors, IV pumps, ventilators, medication scanners, and so on.

We are in the final stages of developing a matrix to show what each item is, who provides it, who installs it, what else is it connected to, if it generates alarms, and whether or not it feeds data to the hospital's electronic medical record, as well as how it all works. We have been doing our work through an integration team, where the clinical, business, and support service staff meet with the design and construction players to select and coordinate each item. We’ve found that you cannot start this type of coordination too early. More discussion is leading to more integration between different systems, which really gets the maximum benefit out of every dollar being spent. The clinical staff also appreciates having a clear understanding of all types of alarms and having time to plan their response procedures—this is at the heart of meeting the Joint Commission recommendations and requirements for annunciation of clinical alarms.

Everybody is excited that 11 of these technologies will be pushing data directly into the new electronic medical record. As I said, this is requiring more coordination on the part of the construction management team to get it all worked out correctly, but the results are exciting. As the federal government pushes initiatives for electronic medical records as well as other healthcare reforms forward, the technology going into the hospital becomes increasingly important. I'd like to hear from others working on this aspect of the construction process!