Trends in healthcare facility infrastructure
The healthcare industry is undergoing a technological transformation. Once lagging other industries, healthcare is now catching-up. As healthcare organizations upgrade existing facilities and build new ones, they are implementing advanced telecommunications infrastructure to accommodate the volume of new communication, diagnostic and medical technologies.
I talked with James A. Koehler, director of specialized services at HGA Architects and Engineers, about how cabling infrastructure supports the ever-evolving telecommunications needs in healthcare.
He noted five infrastructure developments over the past 25 years that are streamlining the healthcare industry.
The Internet The internet is an essential healthcare communication medium. Much like the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 that wired America’s heartland, recent proposed legislation expands broadband internet in rural areas, recognizing the health and safety benefits of the internet.
Home Monitoring Widely available communication technologies are allowing caregivers to remotely monitor a patient’s medical data while the patient is at home. A modernized version of the traditional house call, home monitoring saves time and money while providing the convenience of home healthcare, particularly valuable for the elderly, mobility impaired or mothers with small children.
RFID Technology Radio frequency identification technology (RFID) allows healthcare institutions to track equipment, patients and healthcare personnel within their facilities. For instance, with RFID technology imbedded in a patient’s wristband, a physician can monitor a patient’s progress as he’s being prepped for surgery. Likewise, RFID technology embedded in a physician’s ID badge allows the hospital to track the physician in case of an emergency.
Mobile Devises Most hospitals are now using wireless communication devices, making it easier for nurses and physicians to exchange information. Mobile technology can also allow physicians to stay connected with the hospital while off site. For instance, a physician can review an x-ray or image while using a mobile communications device.
Video Conferencing As in the corporate world, video conferencing bridges long distances by allowing doctors to see patients remotely. A patient can consult with their physician via video conference from their local clinic, rather than travel to the physician’s location. Video conferencing also enables physicians to share diagnostic information with other medical experts in real time. This is particularly useful for practitioners in rural areas who can now benefit from consultation with peers anywhere in the world.
As the pace of technical innovation exponentially increases, healthcare organizations will continue to embrace new efficiencies to benefit their patients.