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Part 1: Medical Technology's Pace Of Innovation Places Heavy Demands On Facilities
By Scott Rawlings
September 2012 -
Health Care Facilities
Medical technology is one of the fastest advancing industries in the world. Platforms from imaging diagnostics to information systems are being reimagined for better data processing and faster turn-around. The goal is to provide faster, better information to caregivers.
The result can be a health care system that is constantly rushing to catch up. These new technologies often come with significant facility requirements, including space, power and structural demands.
Robotic surgery is an example of a rapidly progressing technology that most of us are familiar with. Robotic systems allow for incredibly delicate procedures with laser-like accuracy, but the facility requirements are significant; the procedure room itself should be larger than a general operating room and space needs to be given for equipment and storage.
Surgical imaging suites are another area for future interest. By combining advanced imaging, such as hybrid platforms, directly into the operating theaters, patient care processes can become more efficient. While forward-thinking from a service line standpoint, the facility implications are significant. Depending on the equipment selected, the space requirements for a hybrid theater can be 25 feet by 50 feet, with an equipment load of more than 3,000 pounds just for the central setup.
MRI radiation oncology suites represent the future of cancer treatment. By installing a wide-bore magnet in the oncology treatment zones, physicians can effectively characterize disease, plan treatment options, target tumors, preserve healthy tissue and assess response to therapy. But MRI installation has major facility impacts. A typical 1.5T wide-bore machine can weigh up to 12,000 pounds just for the actively shielded magnet itself, not including the supporting equipment. Mechanical, electrical and computer support require a sizable footprint and patient safety processes would have to dramatically change, requiring serious planning and very significant renovation.
Health care systems are under constant pressure to deliver quality care on declining budgets. To achieve this, continuous rethinking of service line efficiencies almost always includes some discussion of technology upgrades, but these upgrades come at a steep cost: not just in the equipment itself, but in the price of connection, which can include items like construction renovation costs, alterations to supporting engineering systems such as mechanical, electrical and medical gas, and IT data system tie-ins. Facility planners always consider equipment costs, including handling and setup, but they sometimes forget ancillary costs such as infrastructure upgrades, information system adaptation, staff time to coordinate the change and, in some cases, temporary loss of service line capabilities while the installation is occurring.
Part 2: Significant Technology Changes Require Health Care Facility Renovations
Part 3: Hospital Construction Should Aim For Flexibility From Start