We recently went to Charleroi in French-speaking Belgium, population: 200,000. The town has a state-of-the-art hospital that is a hit with both employees and patients. We went on a tour of this healthcare establishment that has made “Digital for all, Now” its mantra.
THE “INNOVATIVE PATIENT ROOM:” A NEW PATIENT CARE EXPERIENCE
We began our visit in the maternity ward, a “laboratory department”. Whilst the snow falls outside, it’s warm and welcoming inside. Everything is brand new: the paintings, the equipment and, most of all, the rooms: ultra-modern, dedicated patient areas boasting last-generation equipment.
“The patient room of the future – we call it the innovative patient room – has a robotic bed that can be put in either reclining or upright position,” says Pierre Jacmin, Director of the hospital’s Technology and IT department. “The bed also features a touch tablet on the end of a mechanical arm whereby the new mothers have access to the Internet, television, telephone and radio. The tablet controls a big flat screen that can be used to communicate with relations via webcam.”
Apart from the cutting-edge equipment, the whole layout of the room has also been designed along modular, ergonomic lines in order to address the needs of connected patients and incorporate any new equipment. The room also features a futuristic sofa-bed and en suite bathroom.
“The rooms were naturally designed with families and babies in mind,” says Marie-Christine Vidts, Head of Midwifery of one of the hospital’s two units.
Although only one of the hospital’s rooms is entirely fitted out with these digital tools and furniture, 11 double rooms and 25 individual rooms have bedside tablets.
“It’s really handy: the mums choose their menu for each meal via the screen and so it’s easier for us to collect the information,” explains one of the nurses. “They can also fill out a satisfaction questionnaire directly via the tablet, which means it’s much easier to gather and process feedback, allowing us to focus on patient care. We’ll eventually be able to store the patients’ medical records on it too, so that the doctors and nursing staff can consult them. That will save us all the hassles of using paper records, which is slower and there’s the risk of losing the files.”
As for the possible issue of the older generation of hospital staff not being able to master the digital tools, this is quickly dismissed by one of the professors:
“They just need training. And it’s as intuitive as a smartphone; I really can’t see it being a problem.”
The project, which was rolled out with the assistance of experts, is apparently a success:
“From the very outset, we’ve shared the risks with Econocom. We brought the overall infrastructure and they deployed the digital solution of the future. As we had already planned to rebuild part of the hospital, it was easier to implement: we were starting from scratch. Now costs are under control and the patients are happy. A few years ago it cost about €4.50 per patient to have a television, whereas now, for €6, they have access to a range of digital tools via the tablet and TV.”
This system is a prime example of “Digital for All, Now” and proves that, even in life’s crucial moments, digital technology can help people – and the users agree: Brigitte, who gave birth to her baby girl in the maternity ward, is full of praise for her experience at the hospital:
“I was initially a bit overwhelmed, but I gradually got used to it. The tablet makes me feel like I’m at home. After I gave birth, I realised how handy it was. Some of our family members live far away and thanks to the tablet connected to the Internet, we can communicate via video and share those precious moments with our loved ones.”