In March 2016, Zurich’s Triemli Hospital opened the most modern inpatient facility in Switzerland after seven years of construction: Rooms accommodating just two patients also for generally insured patients, friendly interior design with natural materials – and on each bed a multimedia terminal with an 18-inch touchscreen. “The existing telephone and television terminals from the old inpatient facility would need to be replaced anyway,” says Patrik Kaiser, Deputy Hospital Director and Head of IT at the Triemli Hospital. “We used the relocation to the new inpatient facility to launch a completely new solution.”
The Triemli Hospital did not want to settle for mere replacement of old hardware. Together with physicians and nursing professionals, the team led by Patrik Kaiser pondered exactly what a hospital should offer a patient today in addition to medical and nursing care.
Entertainment offerings – TV, Internet access, and bedside phone calls – are of course still in demand, with a mounted screen and a proper telephone handset. This is especially important for elderly patients, says Kaiser, emphasising that a solution with a tablet and headset therefore did not come into question.
The Triemli Hospital goes a step further with the new PUT (Patient Universal Terminal): In addition to the television programme with 98 channels, the patients can enjoy more than 130 feature films as video-on-demand – the selection is constantly being expanded.
Another objective was to optimize the processes. In the conventional hospital, there is only the patient call button for all concerns. The nursing service does not know if the patient needs medical assistance or just wants to order a coffee. To avoid unnecessary trips, the new PUT offers a kiosk system that allows patients to order drinks directly from the hotel floor service, giving them more independence.
A pioneering achievement is the integration of the hospital information system: During a visit, the doctor can identify themselves at the terminal with a smart card and clearly explain to the patient the status of his or her treatment with X-ray images, lab results and other findings. The patient themselves is also registered with his or her card. This ensures that only one’s own record and not information of another patient can be seen.
The patient can view his or her record in detail only when their doctor is present. As to the general course of treatment – today a CT, tomorrow the operation, before that the conversation about anaesthesia – the patient may see additional information at any time on an intranet application. This reduces the number of questions asked of the nursing staff and gives the patient the feeling of being constantly informed.
With these clear ideas in mind, Triemli Hospital sought the optimal solution in 2014. “The most important question was not what device to use. The decisive factor was the willingness of suppliers to contribute and help us in the integration of our systems,” Patrik Kaiser says. The contract was awarded to Swisscom with a solution from Unify based on the “HiMed Cockpit 18” from Siemens. The decision was made in October 2014. A year later a pilot installation with TV and telephony went into operation in the Maternity Ward of Triemli Hospital, and by February 2016 the majority of the remaining features had been added. With the relocation to the new inpatient facility, the new PUT was ready with extended features.
The project offered certain challenges. The integration with the telephone exchange and the billing system involved a great deal of development and configuration expenses. The link between the terminal and the hospital information system Medfolio required close collaboration between the hardware and software manufacturers. The good cooperation was also praised by Swisscom Project Manager Marcel Senn: “Through the intensive, solution-oriented cooperation between Triemli Hospital, Unify, aibIT and Swisscom, we were able to provide the most innovative solution for patients, caregivers and doctors.”
“Security was a complex task,” Patrik Kaiser adds. On the one hand, PUT is a PC with a direct connection to the Internet. On the other hand, it also accesses medical data that must be positioned and backed up in different network zones depending on the situation. It is operated by the patient and not by the staff – an additional security risk factor. The security demands required that manufacturers adapt their solutions accordingly.
Since the Triemli Hospital treats many elderly patients, particular attention was paid to ease of operation. With the help of a specialised company, the terminal and all applications were closely examined with elderly test persons and identified problem areas were eliminated before going live.
Patients are excited about the new PUT. On the survey questionnaire, 62 percent stated that the terminal had absolutely or somewhat increased comfort and convenience. Three quarters thought that the PUT is easy to operate. For 41% the availability of a PUT would play a role in the next choice of hospital. And the nursing service notes that the patients are more satisfied than before with the larger screen and the extensive TV selection. The doctors find bedside access to the patient record is a good tool.
“It is Switzerland’s first patient terminal to offer such comprehensive features,” says Patrick Kaiser. “We worked together closely with the doctors and nursing service from the outset – otherwise, we would not have been able to implement the project in the way we did. It is working today not just due to the IT.” And Marcel Senn gives a positive assessment: “A certain pride to have worked on this exciting project resonates in the entire team that helped with the implementation.”
But resting on its laurels is not an option for the Triemli Hospital. The solution is to be further developed on an ongoing basis. The response times when bringing up patient records could be even shorter. The integration of the appointment system is also on the roadmap, which would allow patients to look up their appointments, such as for X-ray or physiotherapy, directly on the screen.