HOK’s Jeff Churchill Explores the Patient Experience at Toronto’s New Humber River Hospital
Jeff Churchill, senior project architect, describes how design and technology improve the patient experience at the new Humber River Hospital in Toronto.
HOK served as the planning, design and compliance architect for the project, which is Toronto’s largest acute care hospital. Serving a region with more than 850,000 residents, the facility houses numerous clinics offering inpatient and outpatient care. The design solution leverages technology to enhance patient care by becoming North America’s first fully digital hospital.
“At Humber River Hospital’s new 1.8-million-square-foot facility in western Toronto, a patient’s journey is designed to be intuitive and precise. Many will start on the building’s south end where a 180-meter-long concourse draws on the notion of an airport’s long, open spaces and passenger drop-off zones to form the main entrance.
“Traditional hospitals have two main entrances, one formal and the other for emergencies. And both are apt to form bottlenecks in terms of enabling patient flow. Here, patients can be dropped off at two northern entries, one for emergency and one for dialysis, or at one of the five entry points along the south drop off road depending on the care they require, explains Jeff Churchill, a vice president in HOK’s Toronto office, the firm that wrote the specifications for this P3 project.
“Called portals of care, each uses signage and wayfinding to direct a patient from curbside to clinic.
“‘It’s a concept we’ve used in our health care work in the U.S. and Humber really liked the idea. Particularly that the clinics are just 30-feet from the entry and how convenient that is for someone dropping off a patient and knowing that they are where they are supposed to be,’ he said. ‘It’s a solution that makes a large hospital into a small, convenient experience.’”
“As Ontario seeks to modernize its health care infrastructure, this new $1-billion facility does more than replace three older sites (one continues as a primary care center). It stands as a current example of state-of-the-art, patient-centered health care delivery.”
“Now, 75 percent of all deliveries in the hospital are done using eight automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to wheel about linens and supplies. A pneumatic tube system moves clean supplies, medicine and specimens through a network of 69 PTS stations using 288 carriers travelling at an average speed of 25 feet per second. Special pneumatic tubes are also used for waste removal and dirty linen.
“Patients have bedside touchscreen terminals where they can access their health records, connect with family, control room elements like lighting and order from food menus. And diagnostic images such as MRI scans can be charted immediately so that specialists can review them sooner and patients can check-in using self serve kiosks that will notify care teams that their patient has arrived.
“‘It’s a remarkable hospital in terms of the integration of digital technology and automation. All of these things have been done in other hospitals–but never in one place and never as Humber has done it,’ said HOK’s Churchill. ‘The most important thing Humber offers is its opportunity for interoperability between systems; so that systems can talk to each other without being prompted.’”