How do you build a hospital that balances cutting edge technology and affordable healthcare?

In 2013, Kaiser Permanente (KP) – a non-profit health plan and care provider – invited the world’s most talented minds to submit their designs for the hospital of the future.

By Arup May 28, 2019

Smart, innovative and a near-zero impact on the environment – the new San Diego Medical Center raises the bar for healthcare in California and across the globe. Our design, engineering and consultancy services helped make this revolutionary hospital a reality.

In 2013, Kaiser Permanente (KP) – a non-profit health plan and care provider – invited the world’s most talented minds to submit their designs for the hospital of the future. The global design firm Arup would be a center piece of the winning team. The winning entry would make use of cutting-edge, integrated technology. It would put patients first. It would have a near-zero impact on the environment.

It would have a near-zero impact on the environment.

Fuelled by the ideas of the competition, KP opened their first, next generation hospital on 25th April 2017. The San Diego Medical Center was inspired by the competition’s innovative designs, and we were key players in both its conception and construction.

We put sustainability at the heart of the design

Determined to integrate into the new community as a good neighbour, the San Diego Medical Center is the fourth and largest healthcare facility worldwide to earn a LEED-HC Platinum certification from the United States Green Building Council.

Lighting typically accounts for 42% of the electricity used in a hospital building

So we proposed 100% LED for the new hospital campus. Other sustainable features include a high-performance façade, photovoltaic panels, active chilled beams and an on-site microturbine-based, combined heat and power plant. Through a combination of water design strategies, including a zero-blowdown condenser water system and a sterile processing department void of one-pass cooling, the hospital is predicted to save an estimated 12,000,000 gallons of water every year in its desert home.

How do you enable a better inpatient experience?

We’ve all grown used to the level of control afforded by our devices in our everyday lives, so being in a hospital bed can feel like going back in time. We implemented technology in the new hospital so that patients can order meals, learn about their medication, access the internet, Skype their nurse, dim the lighting, change the room temperature, and more – all from a wireless keyboard from their beds. All without needing to ask for help.

Connected technology that helps doctors and patients thrive

Clever use of technology doesn’t just make patients more comfortable – it helps hospitals run more efficiently and safely. We incorporated a display into our designs that help care teams easily access patient details from outside their room, even across shift changes.

A special camera system in some rooms allow nurses to draw a digital line around patients’ beds or chairs, providing “virtual bed rails” – so if an arm or leg strays across this virtual boundary for too long, a message will be sent to the smartphone of that patient’s nurse so that the caregiver can ask the patient to wait for help.

We discovered that smart data is key to patient engagement

Thanks to our data integration system, leaders now have a totally immersive, real-time view of everything happening in the hospital, from bed utilization to surgery status. This means they can make smarter decisions in order to provide the safest, most affordable care.

Improving patients’ sleep is key to recovery

It’s no secret that better sleep leads to faster healing, but getting a decent night’s sleep in a hospital isn’t easy. We designed an all LED room lighting system that delivers “cooler” (rich in blue wavelengths) light during the day to promote wakefulness and transitions to “warmer” low intensity light in the early mornings and evenings for rest and recovery. The lighting effectively reinforces healthy circadian rhythms, which quicken recovery time.

Noise also gets in the way of sleep and healing

So, we set out to create a more blissful healing environment. Patient room layouts were configured to provide acoustic screening from the corridor. A special design was established for the demising wall between each of the 321 private patient rooms to address break-through noise and patient confidentiality.

Finally, through a mix of sound recordings and simulations, our acousticians cleverly optimized the building’s exterior envelope in a cost-effective manner.

The future for healthcare is bright

Not only will the San Diego Medical Center allow Kaiser Permanente to better serve patients in the San Diego area, it will pave the way for smarter, greener healthcare across the industry. Our design work, engineering services, and cost analyses have proven that it’s possible to create a hospital that’s sustainable, connected, and accessible for everyone.

This article originally appeared on Arup’s website. Arup is a CFE Media content partner.

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