Healthcare Technology Design Strategies that Reduce Operational Risk

July 20, 2023|Tanner

Few network systems are tasked with doing more with less than those systems found in modern healthcare facilities. In addition to basic demands for network connectivity, modern hospitals must integrate a range of more advanced solutions for patient monitoring, safety and security. These might range from safety and security applications, such as patient wandering and infant protection systems, to the essential infrastructure on which staff relies, from workstations to pneumatic tubes. Add to the critical systems that support patient care – from headwalls to radiology systems to surgical assistance robotics – and it’s easy to understand how healthcare network design can rapidly become overwhelming.

When healthcare technology designs are done well, high-performing hospitals can find ways to integrate some of these systems on the backend. However, the massive number of components that designers must account for makes it all too easy to overlook one or more of these elements in the design phase. By selecting a partner who holds expertise and experience in planning, coordinating, and designing advanced technology systems, healthcare facilities can trust they’ll gain more reliable systems at a reduced overall cost.

The risk of omission in healthcare technology design

The sheer range of systems going into hospitals today makes it essential for health systems to plan what will be included within their network before ever getting out of the design phase. Without this upfront planning and coordination around technology systems design, healthcare facilities risk incomplete design documents that can lead to costly change orders during construction and potential delays to opening day.

It’s unfortunately common for spaces to be designed too small to house all required technology components or power supplies unable to accommodate for future growth. A lack of coordination on healthcare technology design can also lead hospitals to leave out certain systems where needed – or overspend on technology in areas it’s not needed.

Worse yet, poorly integrated systems can lead to operational or maintenance issues. End users expect a new or updated facility to eliminate pain points, not add to them. Effective technology solutions should be integrated in such a way as to make it easier to maintain, update, operate, and secure needed data from systems.

Are your partners adding to your risk?

As network design becomes more complex, it becomes more important that architects and hospital stakeholders partner with a consultant that has specialized experience in technology system design. When this work instead falls upon traditional partners, a range of additional risks emerge:

  • Electrical engineers: When hospitals lean on electrical engineers to design and implement technology systems, there’s a higher risk of system redundancy. For example, it’s not uncommon for electrical engineers to advise using category cable alongside passive optical or fiber networks. In addition, electrical engineers who lack specialized knowledge on how to integrate systems on the backend can add to complexity in operation. While occupancy sensors and security systems, for example, may be able to share hardware elements, electrical engineers may be less likely to identify these redundancies. As a result, owners are less likely to reap potential cost-saving and efficiency advantages.
  • Internal teams: Hospital architecture, construction, and IT teams can provide a big-picture vision of what codes and end-user must-haves to include in network design. However, it’s unrealistic to expect these professionals to provide the specialized knowledge required to account for the hundred of technology components needed to make the building operational.
  • Vendors: When it comes to designing and implementing more complex systems, it can be tempting to lean on technology system vendors for critical insight. The chief challenge here is that not all technology systems are designed to speak to one another. As a result, hospitals may find themselves investing in a range of systems delivered by a single vendor, making it more difficult to upgrade individual components in the future. Hospitals that aim to circumvent this by investing in a range of systems from different vendors will typically require the help of a technology consultant who can securely and effectively integrate systems.

How a network design partner can help

Working in the early design phase with an experience low voltage consultant that specializes in healthcare projects can ensure hospitals have all needed systems included in their design and integrated during construction. A technology consultant can achieve this through discussions with users within each healthcare department to uncover end users’ needs and pain points. Technology designers who are brand agnostic can also better recommend certain systems or functionalities.

A dedicated technology consultant can also take on the time-consuming task of building a bill of all materials that includes telephones, computers, printers, scanners, fax machines, and other technology end points, and countless other devices that it takes to run a hospital. This partner can also create healthcare technology design drawings and master schedules for ordering equipment, down to the individual part number.

Moreover, a technology design consultant ensures that the selected systems operate as intended. A hospital can’t afford a steep learning curve or nonoperational systems after handoff. Systems must work as expected to ensure patient safety and regulatory compliance.

To discover additional ways that a network design consultant can help your project outperform your expectation, contact CRUX Solutions.