Healthcare innovations have improved many aspects of patient care. We’ve seen genetic sequencing, targeted therapies, remote monitoring devices and robotic surgery.
But the innovations needed in a hospital aren’t limited to clinical applications. There are several innovations that can improve facilities management to make the whole hospital more efficient.
Many of these are regularly deployed in mobile and modular healthcare facilities.
Air filtration in operating rooms
Air filtration systems in operating rooms (ORs) reduce the risk of infection from airborne particles, including COVID-19. HEPA filters ensure that the air supplied to the OR is clean and that there is a sufficient quantity of fresh air to dilute particles to a suitable level.
The minimum Australian requirements laid out in AS1668 Part 2 call for:
- Air entering the OR to pass through a HEPA grade filter
- A minimum of 20 air changes per hour
- Positive air pressure to the surrounding areas to control the entry of air to the OR.
The rate of air change in the OR matters not only for infection control but also for efficiency.
Widely accepted calculations suggest that it would take 15 minutes to clear the air in an OR with 20 air changes per hour. That’s a quarter of an hour of dead time between every single procedure on each day’s surgical list – time that no hospital can afford to waste when dealing with a backlog of elective surgery cases.
Mobile and modular ORs are highly controlled environments, which can often offer a higher number of air changes per hour than a hospital’s internal facilities.
Mobile and modular healthcare facilities can offer HEPA-filtered environmental air with up to:
- 30 fresh air changes per hour passing over the patient in an OR and endoscopy suite
- 60 fresh air changes per hour in a mobile laminar flow OR.
The sterilisation systems for storage of sterile stock
Since 2014, Australia has been gradually working towards compliance with a new standard for reprocessing reusable medical devices (AS/NZS 4187:2014). This should achieve greater consistency with international standards and ensure that there is a system to trace reusable devices back to identify the instrument used on a particular patient in a particular procedure.
It’s quite a big undertaking that may mean hospitals need to:
- Find more floor space to segregate clean and dirty activities
- Review conditions in existing storage facilities, such as temperature, humidity and contamination risk – and redesign or upgrade if not compliant
- Invest in new equipment for their central sterile services department, including washer disinfectors (compliant with ISO 15883) and sterilisers (compliant with EN 285 or EN 13060)
- Develop a tracing system, preferably electronic, to trace device use to a patient to allow for recall if required
- Develop operational procedures for the use of reusable medical devices that are compliant with the standard (training may be required).
Compliance deadlines have been revised several times and now run into late 2022 and 2023 in some cases.
One way for hospitals to meet compliance deadlines is to install a mobile and modular central sterile services department (CSSD) and/or an endoscope decontamination unit. These facilities are fully compliant with the latest standard and can be installed within a few months, offering an easy win for hospitals.
Mobile operating rooms
Hospitals are under pressure to increase elective surgeries to reduce the high numbers of people being made to wait too long for these procedures.
Mobile operating rooms can be deployed wherever needed – as an outreach service in underserviced regional areas, to extend capacity in busy city hospitals or to maintain service provision during hospital refurbishment.
When a storm damaged one of The Alfred Hospital’s primary ORs, the hospital installed a mobile laminar flow OR onsite. It meant that patients could still receive their heart surgery on time rather than being made to wait weeks or months for the hospital’s OR to be repaired.
Professor Paul Myles, the hospital’s Director of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, said, ‘The theatre exceeded expectations…it’s the first-time open-heart surgery has been done in this type of portable operating theatre to my knowledge in the world.’
Healthcare’s carbon footprint ranges from about 3% of total national emissions in England to 10% in the USA. Healthcare is responsible for about 7% of Australia’s overall carbon emissions – and hospitals are responsible for about half of that 7%.
Hospitals can improve sustainability in many ways: reducing power consumption, reusing surgical equipment in a safe manner, increasing recycling, and substituting potent anaesthetic greenhouse gases for more environmentally friendly alternatives.
A review of the advantages of mobile and modular healthcare facilities demonstrates:
- Reduction in construction times and overall costs
- Results in better integration of supply chains
- Reduction in embodied energy
- Improved acoustic insulation and thermal performance
- Decreases in greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants
- Less waste and uses less energy over its lifespan.
Hospitals keen to meet their green KPIs while undertaking capital works would be well advised to consider using mobile and modular facilities.
Innovations such as these are changing how healthcare facilities are designed, constructed and managed and delivering many benefits for hospital efficiency and sustainability.
If you’d like to learn more about how innovative mobile and modular healthcare facilities could help your hospital, please contact Q-bital Healthcare Solutions.