Florence Nightingale is often viewed as the ‘Mother of Modern Nursing’. Back in the 1850’s she treated wounded soldiers from the Cremean War with an unorthodox approach that was ahead of its time. She posited that the environment itself played a huge role in a patient’s healing and recovery; things like proper air ventilation, natural sunlight, good room temperature and moisture control. Rather than focusing on just the medicine and treatment, Nightingale trained the other nurses to look at the big picture and that there is more to healing than just the straight science. Within months, Nightingale and the other nurses almost entirely eliminated deaths due to preventable diseases among those soldiers.
Barcelona recently hosted the Schneider Innovation Summit, showcasing a grand display of digital innovations across various industries - I was incredibly fortunate to be able to attend this event. The Summit demonstrated sustainable and cost-efficient energy options in all areas through impressive touring of hardware, software, and services. The mission to promote healthy and people-centric living particularly resonated in the healthcare section where the stories of clinical operations, building operations, and emergency services all came together. The healthcare section made it loud and clear: a healthy and energy efficient hospital promotes healthy and happy patients. Nightingale would be proud.
In an aging world where patient satisfaction and financial struggles remain at the forefront of hospital challenges, finding the balance between operations and spending to keep the patient well looked after is still a tricky endeavour. If you think keeping the "lights" on in a hospital is like everywhere else… it's not. There are only so many corners to cut in a mission critical environment before you start putting the patient at risk. I remember desperately wishing we had an extra nurse on my unit to balance out the patient assignments; the unit was understaffed, but also had no budget for overtime or new hires. I often wondered where the hospital spent all its money - Supplies? Staff? Research? Medication? Operations? To clinicians and patients, energy consumption and facility maintenance exists as a “hidden cost” and are seldom thought of.
The healthcare tour told a narrative to illustrate a concept fundamental to healthcare - the holistic environment. This differs from the traditional environment, where building operations and energy management are seen as having clear boundaries separating them from clinical operations and workflows. Schneider and ThoughtWire asked some simple questions that paved the way for innovation:
- Where does the facility flows and clinical flows come together?
- What would happen if we stopped looking at those areas in isolation?
- How does the physical environment itself affect the patient’s recovery?
Just like Nightingale discovered centuries ago, a patient can best focus on rest and recovery when their environment encourages an atmosphere of well-being.
Through ThoughtWire’s Digital Twin and the Schneider Ecostruxure Building Management System (BMS), clinical workflows trigger automation of the BMS. For example, when a patient gets admitted into a room, the Digital Twin and BMS can work together to automatically adjust the room environment accordingly (adjust the lights, temperature, blinds, air flow, etc.). More importantly, we can automate the room settings to a ‘standby’ or ‘default’ mode when the room is unoccupied, like when a patient goes down for a lengthy test or procedure. This simple optimization and redistribution of resources is just one way that the lines between building and clinical operations are being blurred. The two technologies collaborate together to create a ‘truly’ connected hospital that no longer draws a distinction between previously siloed operations.
The Schneider Innovation Summit pushed the envelope and challenged the status quo of operations, especially in the healthcare section. A hospital is a patient’s home away from home while they recover, and it makes perfect sense that making it a more comfortable environment will make it more conducive to their recovery. Optimizing workflows while simultaneously lowering energy consumption opens up endless possibilities - in a way, innovation is an extra nurse on staff to ensure that the patient is well looked after. When you can capture, analyze, and process all data in real time, “Life Is On”.