How Technology Can Help With Dorm to Hospital Transition
- By Amy Jeffs
- August 10, 2020
With states across the country looking to alternative hospital facilities or pop-up hospitals, college dormitories are among the alternatives being considered. While at first glance these buildings seem like the ideal solution, there are many adjustments and upgrades that are needed, arguably one of the most important shifts that would be needed is in technology. There are key changes that can, and need to be made in order for these structures to serve as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Using Dorms Existing Infrastructure
There are many pieces of dormitory's existing infrastructure that make them an ideal pop-up hospital, using what is already there is key to both quick and efficient transition. Each dormitory building is equipped with a front desk or check-in area for guests. This area is equipped with a camera, PA system, computer check-in system or phones. While many of these systems currently work independently, integrating all of them onto one technology platform can vastly improve the check-in process and make it more ideal for a hospital setting.
For example, once integrated, the existing camera used to monitor the entrance can be leveraged for access control through communication with smartphones, TVs, monitors and laptop devices so they can automatically receive live video feed from the entrance. When a guest is prepared to enter the building, the staff member on-site can determine or even communicate instructions directly with that person before to letting them in.
Knowing an essential piece to success in these pop-up facilities is to limit exposure from patients, by integrating the live feed, staff are able to monitor the entrance and communicate with those checking in without the need for direct contact. Many of the infrastructures existing technology can be leveraged in a similar way to improve connectivity and communication.
Along those same lines, by bolstering existing security systems, hospitals will be able to more efficiently care for patients by helping route them to the right facility. Many of the pop-up hospitals are being used to care for patients who do not have coronavirus symptoms but are there for other medical reasons.
With the majority of dormitories having security check-ins through automatic badges or at the very least physical keys, you can limit entrance strictly to hospital staff. With the right technology in place, restricting this access however does not mean restricting communication. Using the same system as above, hospital staff can screen patients before they enter the building using a temporary kiosk solution. When a patient arrives at the kiosk a staff member can enable two-way communication via an intercom to discuss their symptoms and help determine whether or not they can be permitted in the building. Once permitted, staff can give them access to the building from their device and communicate with those inside the building through phones, computers, and monitors to make sure the patient is routed where they need to go.
Once inside the building, this same technology can be applied to certain floors or areas of the building where patients need more monitoring or have more urgent needs. Staff inside of the rooms are able to communicate with those outside of the room using that same network connecting through phones, computers and monitors that may not have been previously connected. In addition, patients can be given tablets/kiosk devices which allow them to easily communicate with staff if they are in need of assistance or have an urgent need.
Maximizing Alert Systems
Another system that can be enhanced through communication connectivity is emergency alerting and response. The existing technology in dorms include fire panels, alarms, various sensors and emergency alert buttons. While previously utilized in case of an emergency, these units can be used to help create a network of connectivity for essential communication.
For example, an alarm can be set up to be triggered if a door is opened. More specifically, that alert can be assigned to a certain staff member or group rather than alerting everyone. For example, a nurse on a certain floor can be notified that one of their patients has opened a door without notifying other floor nurses. Similarly, the security team can be notified if a door has been propped open or a locked door broken into posing any kind of security threat. By connecting all of your emergency alert systems you are able to communicate the right message to the right people at the right time.
Lastly, another necessity that comes from improved technology is the collection of data. If all technology is combined on one platform, not only are you ensuring messages are delivered to the right place, but you are also creating a trail of data to be utilized and help inform decisions. The same data that is collected and used in the hospital industry can be applied to dormitories or pop-up hospitals.
As an example, when a patient presses an emergency alert button or notifies staff that they are in need, technology can track response time between when the alarm was triggered and when the staff member was able to respond.
Additionally, a simple check-in system with staff can help manage turnover and allow leadership to make decisions in terms of staffing. If there are certain floors or areas in which response times seem slower, a conversation can be had about offering more support in those areas or where the lapse is occurring. If upon check-in, a staff member has any symptoms of illness, looking back and previous staffing records will help determine their latest interactions and any potential impacts. These staffing decisions are critical in times of emergency and can help key decision makers make a difference in employee turnover and efficiency.
As all of the above examples outlined, there are existing infrastructures that can be built upon and enhanced to help create these pop-up hospital facilities. A key to that change is connecting the right pieces of technology and getting the information to the right people. It is essential to have these pieces in place before the facility is used to house patients. In addition, having key stakeholder buy-in from administrators and facilitators will be needed for implementation and success. It is the ingenuity of what we know works in hospital facilities and what we have to work with in dorms that will help these facilities be most successful in housing hospital patients.