The growing demand for medical services, the increasing cost pressure, and the particular requirements on security make the running of hospitals a highly challenging undertaking. Where the complex processes of a hospital optimally interact with the technical infrastructure, economic benefit is generated, as well as more security and comfort for patients and staff.
Large hospitals usually encompass several, rather complex buildings, frequented by many people with different needs. In contrast to office buildings or industrial facilities, high-end technical systems as well as patients with restricted mobility can be found almost anywhere in a hospital, and large building parts are accessible to virtually everybody. This constellation holds a number of risks, which require utmost care of the people in charge.
Flexible Access Control
Access management in a hospital may vary depending on the building, structure and room functions. Among the permanently protected rooms are wardrobes, server rooms and significant technical facilities. Other rooms are freely accessible during the daytime, while at night they are only accessible with access authorization (badge, smart card). Other zones in turn only provide access for doctors or nursing staff. In addition, interdependencies between different doors are possible; e.g. the possibility that a door can only be opened after another one is closed, comparable to a two-door interlock. In general, access to any zone can be controlled as regards time, place, and people. As an efficient solution should offer modular, electronic access control systems, which may be adapted and configured to the individual needs. Apart from access control, these systems are also used for badge generation, visitor management, time management, and payment transactions. More recent systems can be seamlessly integrated in an existing system environment; they can also be used to manage several buildings at different locations, and interfaces are provided to combine them with biometric recognition methods (finger print), video technology or intruder alarm systems, e.g. for the surveillance of sensitive areas with increased security requirements.
Intelligent Smoke Detection System
A fire in a hospital may have disastrous consequences. To effectively limit fire risks, a fire protection concept is necessary, in which structural, technical and organizational measures interact. In the foreground is the dependable detection of emerging fires. In case of alarm, the hospitalˇs security staff is alarmed, doors are closed automatically, ventilation systems are deactivated, smoke exhaust and extinguishing systems are activated, and elevators automatically move to the designated location. A fire detection system that is absolutely reliable and immune to deceptive phenomena is of utmost importance, as a false alarm may considerably disturb the hospitalˇs operation.
A state-of-the-art fire detection system also includes the surveillance of particular technical facilities or devices, as well as piping systems for explosive or toxic gases. High-sensitive air sampling smoke detection systems or gas sensors are used for this purpose, detecting any dangerous development in a closed apparatus housing or a pipeline as early as possible, alarming via the installed fire detection system and automatically interrupting the gas or power supply. To protect important server systems or high-tech devices, the fire detection system is often connected to extinguishing systems, which in case of alarm release an extinguishing agent to contain the fire immediately.
With larger buildings, the use of a voice alarm system is additionally recommended, informing endangered people and areas in case of fire and coordinating a safe evacuation. People tend to ignore or misinterpret conventional alarming devices such as horns or sirens. Depending on the situation, a voice alarm system informs the areas concerned by voice messages transmitted via loudspeakers, on escape routes to be used or to be avoided in case of evacuation. Both the language used, and the combination with foreign languages can be programmed. Of course, such a system can also be used for other communication purposes, e.g. for paging or the transmission of background music.
Economic Benefit by Energy Management
Energy management and the power supply for the hospital organization is a security-relevant, but also economically critical aspect. A power failure even when it lasts only a few minutes could bring about disastrous consequences for all hospital operations. Independent from the question whether a hospital works self-supporting or is powered externally, the power supply, including emergency power units, must be guaranteed round the clock. With the systems applied for building automation and room control, energy management can be optimized and appropriate savings measures can be assessed in a realistic way. Siemens Building Technologies offers the net-based Energy Monitoring and Controlling (EMC service module), acquiring consumption data and the emission of CO2 and making this data available to the users at any time. Improvements can be achieved by optimizing nominal values, operating times, and the use of the residual heat in the building. High cost savings are possible by reducing the air flow of air conditioning and ventilation systems. This includes the replacement of outdated air flow controls and the re-dimensioning of fans.
To exploit the existing energy savings potential and the associated improvements on the part of building engineering, BT offers a service called Performance Contracting. With this service contract, BT as general contractor takes charge of the necessary modernizing and optimizing measures. The required investment is paid back from the energy and operating cost savings during the contract period. The contract additionally increases the operational safety as well as the value of the building equipment and thus contributes to the protection of the environment by targeted energy savings and reduced emission. Additional savings are distributed among the partners, savings not achieved are borne by BT. After the expiry of the contract period, all savings accrue to the customer.
Case study: Hospital da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal
Siemens Building Technologies supplied such a 'total' solution at the Hospital da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal. The integrated healthcare campus opened in January 2007 and is structured in more than 30 special clinics and practices to provide outpatient and inpatient treatment. The campus accommodates a general hospital with 130 beds, a nursing home with 150 beds and a retirement home with 115 apartments. The total investment for this project amounted to US$184.5 million. BT installed and combined systems from their portfolio in safety and security, building automation and energy efficiency. A special feature is the interface between building automation and the IT-solution. With HiMed-cockpit user interface medical practitioners have access to all clinical data required for their healthcare services. In addition patients can call for assistance in case of emergency, telephone, can select TV/Radio programs, have access to the Internet, communicate with the integrated web camera or can control room functions such as light, HVAC control or the window blinds from their bedside.
The complex is owned by the Espirito Santo banking group, which entered the healthcare sector only a few years ago through its Espirito Santo Saude holding company. In the meantime the group has acquired, renovated or constructed 13 hospitals in Portugal. Hospital da Luz is the most modern of these properties. Some of the people responsible for the groupˇs healthcare activities come from the management consulting and financial sectors and from the outset of the planning and design process put their trust in IT and the integration of all processes as the key to success. The goal was to operate as a network thus safely and efficiently.