Three Fundamentals When Designing for Digital Care

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media , November 10, 2009

In order to realize this digital vision of the future, however, there are some fundamental design principals that hospitals should consider first.

  • Heat.The heat that these smart hospitals generate is extraordinary, says Walton. So whether you are renovating or building from the ground up, you have to consider the amount of power that is being generated by these systems and what impact that will have.
  • Cable trays. Regardless of which category of cable organizations are using today, it will be obsolete in two years, says David Greusel, a principal at the design firm Populous, which is know for it's work in sports venues and convention centers. "We've seen building after building that didn't have a robust infrastructure for technology and ended up with itty bitty cable trays that are overflowing after five years because it had been rewired so many times," he says, adding that organizations should think about their technology infrastructure the same way they think about plumbing. Plumbing is stacked up so that all the pipes can work together and technology infrastructure should be designed the same way. "Wireless is not the magic wand either, because it has a big hairy infrastructure behind it as well," he says.
  • Redundancy. If you go down the EHR path, you can't skimp on redundancy, says Walton. "An hour of downtime is almost a life threatening event. We have just reached that tipping point where falling back to paper is not an option much longer."

When designing the digital hospital of the future, organizations should "think about the facility as coming alive and the expectations that patients and families will want from technology," says Walton.

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Carrie Vaughan is a senior editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at

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