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A technological marvel

Andy Grove, the former chairman and CEO of Intel Corp., once remarked that a fundamental rule in technology states that whatever can be done, will be done. If that is true, a perfect example is the ne...


November 1, 2007  


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Andy Grove, the former chairman and CEO of Intel Corp., once remarked that a fundamental rule in technology states that whatever can be done, will be done. If that is true, a perfect example is the newly opened Brampton Civic Hospital (BCH), a $550 million technological marvel that opened its doors to the public in late October.

It is remarkable for many reasons, in that it is a showcase for a multitude of high-tech advances ranging from its 10 Gigabit Ethernet backbone to a multi-facility document scanning system that hospital officials say moves health information management closer to the goal of becoming paperless.

As our story on p. 6 points out, BCH is the first hospital in North America to install a wireless handheld device system that allows nurses to provide prompt and effective response to patient calls and also the first implementation outside the U.K. of TOMCAT, a complex cardiovascular diagnostic and information system.

Robert Richards, president and CEO of William Osler Health Centre, a regional referral centre that operates BCH and Etobicoke General Hospital, gushed at a media event held two weeks before the facility opened, that it is “big, beautiful and everything that it was meant to be.

“As the project moved forward, the technology we looked at incorporating into the construction of this fine facility certainly prompted some compelling conversations around my office,” he said. “I’m not a techno-genius, so when I began hearing of the capabilities we were looking at and how they would help us to increase efficiency, realize savings and focus on patient care, I was awe-struck.”

Among them is the bar-coded and individually packaged drug dispensing system, which reduces the chance of medication errors, provides faster medication access to the nursing staff, eliminates paper charts and according to officials, “sets the stage for Computerized Physician Order Entry — no more copying orders and trying to read handwriting.”

There are dozens of other breakthroughs at BCH, which spans the size of three football fields, including a cabling and networking infrastructure that converges voice, video, data and image onto a single system.

In terms of the numbers, there are 479 beds, 12 operating rooms, 3,700 staff members, 700 physicians, dozens of mechanical and electrical stations, 14 labour and delivery rooms, 52 data closets, 10,000 network drops, 1,800 IP phones, 202 servers, close to half a Petabyte of raw disk storage and two layers of firewall systems.

At the open house, Judy Middleton, chief information officer at William Osler, described the initiative as not only a major milestone, but also an “incredible” IT journey.

“Innovative technology supports our health centre’s objectives to increase efficiency, realize savings and focus on patient care,” she said.

More importantly, everything appears to be in working order, which as any observer of the cabling, networking and computing industries knows, what is promised and what is delivered do not always jive.

As Grant Buckler writes in our annual look into the crystal ball beginning on p. 10, while increased use of video and the convergence of more services onto a single network put upward pressure on bandwidth requirements, security issues could be pushing the other way and actually slow down the flow of data.

The story notes that like security lineups in airports, firewalls and other security provisions can slow the flow of data, which means network administrators and designers will face a balancing act as they attempt to handle growing traffic demands.

It is one hurdle that Tony Marcelli, the manager of technical services, who oversees the cabling and networking infrastructure at William Osler, has already crossed.