Technology Integration Within Healthcare Facilities: What to Look For

Technology is not going anywhere and facility managers need to be aware of how operations will change.

By Mackenna Moralez, Associate Editor

It is no secret that new and emerging technologies are revolutionizing industries, and healthcare is no different. Enhancing design efficiency and decision-making in creating futuristic healthcare environments can leave many facility departments feeling overwhelmed. However, it doesn’t have to be as challenging as thought to be.

Healthcare Facilities Today recently spoke with Matthew Griffith, VP, director of healthcare division at Barge Design Solutions on how healthcare facilities are looking to integrate technology into their operations in the coming future and what facilities managers should be aware of. 

HFT: How do you plan to incorporate technology infrastructure to support seamless connectivity within the healthcare facility? 

Matthew Griffith: Technology infrastructure in healthcare settings takes on three primary forms vital to the safe storage and transmission of patient information: electronic health records (EHR), health information exchange (HIE), and medical imaging systems. Utilizing EHR enables healthcare providers to digitize patient records, making them easily accessible and transferable to enhance continuity of care. HIE takes that further by connecting providers across healthcare systems with updated medical records while ensuring the secure exchange of patient information from one provider to the next. Finally, the latest technology in imaging machines like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs enables easy storage and retrieval of medical images. As the demand for telehealth services continues to increase, incorporating software for online patient consultations and mobile health app monitoring to collect real-time data is also essential. 

Related: Individualizing the Patient Experience Through Technology

HFT: How will the design prioritize a positive user experience for both healthcare professionals and patients interacting with technology? Are there considerations for accessibility and user-friendly interfaces? 

Griffith: Healthcare technology must be widely accessible and user-friendly to empower all patients to take control of their health. Two primary steps include designing an intuitive user interface and leaning into mobile responsiveness. An intuitive user interface, offering simple, direct instructions and maintaining an organized layout, is available in multiple languages. For example, when users activate an app or check interactive touch screens in healthcare settings, both should provide step-by-step instructions to give users confidence in finding and utilizing relevant features. Finding new ways to gather user feedback is also important for optimizing digital and physical healthcare spaces. To generate a positive user experience, today's healthcare technology should allow users to report issues and offer real-time patient support for non-life-threatening concerns. For example, many our recent patient bed expansion projects such as the Ft. Walton Beach Medical Center patient tower include user-friendly interface that is easily accessible by the patient which includes features such as smart TV connectivity for streaming services, as well as being able to order food, and accessing real time doctor and nurse information. It’s a great driver for positive patient and visitor satisfaction scores when the patient is able to see items such as 'what time the next doctor will visit my room for a check-in,' 'what medications I was given,' and 'what is on the menu for dinner this evening. 

HFT: How will the physical design of spaces account for the secure storage and access of electronic health records? 

Griffith: There are several best practices to consider when designing healthcare facilities to account for the security of electronic health records (EHR). To start, establish dedicated, secure data centers with regulated access measures to verify all personnel. Additional physical security tools include surveillance cameras and even biometric authentication. 

Additionally, healthcare spaces should be designed to support HIPAA regulations, an industry standard in safeguarding sensitive patient health information. To enhance privacy and security, it is common in our designs to specify finishes with high sound absorption qualities. Examples of physical design to support data privacy include: 

  • Private patient consultation rooms 
  • Isolated workstations for providers to evaluate patient test results 
  • Secure phone lines for provider communication 

Lastly, electronic devices like computers and medical equipment must be placed in locations that prevent unauthorized viewing and login access. 

Mackenna Moralez is the associate editor of the facilities market. 

April 1, 2024

Topic Area: Information Technology

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