Eahm2019 | Gerry O’Dwyer - smart building

28th Congress of the European Association for hospital managers



The third of the six topics for the 28th EAHM congress is Smart Buildings & Logistics. This topic will be addressed in one of the six hospitals which will be able to be visited: AZ Delta in Roeselare. Why this topic? We asked the Chairman, Gerry O’Dwyer, HMI Past President, elected Vice-President of the European Association of Hospital Managers.

In recent years, huge investments have been made in new hospitals in Belgium. How do you see the hospital of the future?

Yes, there has been significant welcome investment in the healthcare system in recent years. To ensure this investment continues to bring a positive patient experience, we need to focus on service integration and digitalisation within the health service. In Ireland and across the EU, this will require a move away from the current service delivery model with a new focus on the provision of integrated healthcare services in the community to provide care in the right way and at the right location that ensures a safe, high quality service for all patients. This move would ensure that the specialised hospital can focus on complex services that require specialist knowledge or technologies or both. This move to a more integrated service delivery model of the future is underway in Ireland under the Sláintecare Programme. Sláintecare is a 10 year health service improvement strategy with one of its key focuses being on patients accessing care at the most appropriate and cost effective service level, with a strong emphasis on prevention and public health. To ensure a strong evidence basis for all services within the service delivery model, we need to continue to build and maintain strong academic linkages with the Universities/Higher Education Institutes, along with industry partnerships, with involvement of patients and communities. These linkages should be at all levels, i.e. undergraduate education, postgraduate training, staff education and research, along with industry partnerships in relation to research and innovation. This will ensure that we have a highly skilled workforce working with the most innovative digital technologies to support the overall vision for integrated patient-centred care with significant services being delivered in community and at home.

What is a smart hospital according to you? What will the key success factors be?

There are a vast range of innovative digital technologies that currently exist and are already functioning within our health services along with new up-coming technologies. Based on the current literature, I see a smart hospital as a hospital which has the technology to allow staff to manage workflows and patient data, collection, storage and transmission of clinical data and viewing and processing diagnostic data through electronic means. This ensures that clinical staff can focus more on delivering care and spend less time on tasks that can be automated and performed by smart systems. The technology should also be able to extend out of the smart hospital into the community and the patients home through the use of telemedicine services. This would allow for a patient care pathway in the community/at home and ensure that we stand by the core of service integration i.e. ensuring the treatment is provided as close to home as possible for the patient. Based on the international research, it is clear that the inclusion of these technologies in our health service has the ability to transform how healthcare is delivered in the future, with success measured as increased access for patients, provision of more personalised care package, reduced costs and better patient safety, population health, public health and epidemiological outcomes.

What will be the role of the hospital manager tomorrow with more and more connected hospitals?

The Hospital Manager of tomorrow with more and more connected hospitals will firstly continue to be the leader they have always been. They will now lead within a system which will support their leadership through digitisation as their location of management may not be on one site and maybe geographically dispersed. In Europe, we have been working within a Hospital Group/Trust model for a number of years. This model has one Chief Executive Officer responsible for the management and leadership of a number of hospitals of varying size and across a broad geographical region. This has been a successful model to date with plans to integrate the hospitals and community services into one service delivery model currently under discussion.

How can the technology be used in such a way that the hospital of the future will continue to evolve and contribute to better connected and personalised care for the patient?

Technology can be used through mobile apps, sensors and medical devices to monitor and improve patient health and well-being both during their hospital journey and at home. It should be acknowledged that the success of these devices is dependent on patient’s adaption levels. Information technologies will be used to predict needs, personalise healthcare processes and treatments and follow up and connect with patients wherever they are one to one or with the multidisciplinary team and the patient.

How can the EAHM help the hospital managers to go on in this direction?

EAHM supports a hospital approach which is patient centred underpinned by effective communication to develop understanding of the needs and expectations of the community we serve. EAHM can support hospital managers through networking opportunities to allow learning from others experiences and sharing of good innovations and techniques. We can also assist in building the links with Primary Care/Family doctors and other community healthcare providers to support integrated care to the growing ageing population which we know will require health services in the coming years. EAHM will assist hospital managers to develop international partnerships and Academic Health systems, within systems which are suitable for this model.

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