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2020 Year in Review: Healthcare Foodservice

Healthcare Foodservice 2020 Year in Review

Here are the highlights of our healthcare foodservice blogs from this year.

In the face of a global pandemic, we saw healthcare systems pushed to their limits. As we adapted to this new environment in 2020, we saw a change in how healthcare foodservice is handled, from delivery to sanitation to everything in between. Not only were these new solutions designed to keep patients safe, but healthcare staff safe as well.

Here are the highlights of what we saw transpire in healthcare foodservice this year:

Continue reading 2020 Year in Review: Healthcare Foodservice

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2020 Year in Review: Senior Care Foodservice

Here are the highlights of our senior care foodservice blogs from this year.

Senior care facilities were put on high alert early on during the Coronavirus pandemic. With residents at a higher risk than most, it has been vital for senior care staff to continue to deliver necessary foodservice safely. Meal delivery during COVID-19 has never been as important, and with the right tools, it was being done in a safe, effective manner. The changes we saw over the course of 2020 will no doubt impact how senior care foodservice is handled as we embark on the new year.

Here are the biggest takeaways of the significant changes we witnessed in senior care foodservice in 2020.

Continue reading 2020 Year in Review: Senior Care Foodservice

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How Versatile Equipment Can Help Tackle COVID-19

Hospital Administrators are always looking for ways to save money, and one of the best ways to do so is to invest in versatile and durable products for daily use in their facilities. Lakeside manufactures a wide variety of essential healthcare equipment that is multi-functional and designed with durability at the top of mind. The coronavirus pandemic has made it even clearer how important it is to have equipment that is versatile, and Lakeside is able to ship these models out very quickly to allow your facility to adapt to the new challenges it may be faced with during this time of extra strain on the healthcare industry.

Here are some products that are sure to improve your hospital’s flexibility and be reliable for years to come.

Compact Preciso Medical Cart

Description:

The Compact Preciso Medical Cart is a lightweight and versatile multi-purpose medical cart with a small footprint which makes it super easy to maneuver, even in tight spaces. The flexible design of this model means that it can be used to transport all sorts of medical supplies including PPE or anything else that needs to be dispersed all throughout facilities. This cart also comes with a key locking system to secure valuables and other important supplies, as well as a molded ABS plastic top and base to ensure easy sanitization, another key factor in dealing with COVIDThe back and side walls of the Compact Preciso Medical Cart are reinforced with aluminum and polyethylene making it very durable, and the quiet 4” casters guarantee this product will be reliable for years.  

Key Features:

  • Easy to maneuver
  • Capable of transporting a wide variety of medical equipment
  • Locking system to secure valuables
  • Easy sanitization with ABS plastic top
  • Highly durable materials that increase lifetime of the cart
  • Comes in yellow, red, blue & white but white is sure to be a versatile look for long term use

Why is this a key COVID-19 product?

The Compact Preciso Medical Cart is highly versatile and flexible.  Not only will it greatly aid facilities in getting through COVID times, but will prove its value even beyond the pandemic era.

311 Utility Cart

Description:

The 311 Utility Cart is Lakeside’s very first and best-selling product. Facilities have relied on the 311 for over 70 years, and there’s a good reason why. This utility cart can be used for many different applications and transport anything from medical instruments, supplies, ventilators, scales, food and more. The all-welded stainless steel construction provides unmatched strength and durability with a 300 lb. capacity, ensuring that the 311 will be reliable for a long time. The protective bumpers on the legs and handles will make sure that your facility doesn’t sustain any damage while transporting supplies on the 3.5” all-swivel casters. The stainless steel construction also ensures quick and easy sanitization while the sound deadening panels prevent unwanted vibration and noise during transport.  

Key Features: 

  • All-welded Stainless Steel Construction
  • 300 lb. carrying capacity
  • Protective Bumpers
  • Capable of transporting a wide variety of medical supplies and equipment
  • Super durable design ensures reliability for years to come

Why is this a key COVID-19 product? 

The 311 Utility Cart is designed to be very versatile and it's stainless steel construction ensures easy sanitization and reliability during the pandemic and for a long time after we return to normal.

444 Utility Cart

Description:

The 444 Utility Cart is like the big brother to the 311, providing 500 lb. capacity with many of the same features that everyone loves. The 444 is also constructed with stainless steel; one of the strongest and  easiest materials to sanitize. The 5” all swivel, no-mark polyurethane casters make the utility cart very maneuverable for its size, providing easy transport of essential supplies, such as ventilators, around a facility. This utility cart is super versatile and can help a facility overcome many difficulties that have arisen from the coronavirus pandemic.

Key Features:

  • All-welded stainless steel construction
  • Capable of transporting a wide variety of medical equipment up to 500 lb. at a time
  • Super durable design ensures reliability for many years
  • Protective Bumpers
  • 5" all swivel, no-mark casters

Why is this a key COVID-19 product?

The 444 Utility Cart is extremely versatile and can transport all sorts of medical equipment on its sturdy 5" all swivel, no-mark casters. The 444 will prove it's worth with the extra challenges presented by COVID-19 and will become a reliable transport solution for facilities once they return to normal day-to-day operations.

356 Compact Utility Stand

Description:

This 300 lb. capacity utility stand is super multi-purpose and is used for many different application within a facility. The compact design makes the stand very easy to maneuver around a facility and deliver supplies that are needed in different areas. The 356 can also be set up in patient rooms or wherever extra storage space may be needed and the top of can function as an additional work surface improving its versatility. The stainless steel construction ensures great durability and the sturdy 3.5” all swivel casters allow for daily use with little to no signs of wear. If necessary, fitted locks are available for the drawer to provide a secure space to hold valuable supplies or other important items.

Key Features:

  • Stainless steel construction provides easy sanitization and durability
  • Compact design improves maneuverability
  • Adds both storage space and work surface
  • Locking system is available to secure valuables

Why is this a key COVID-19 product?

The 356 Utility Stand can add value in many different ways because of its great versatility. Its compact design provides facilities with the ability to utilize this product however they see fit, and allows them to maneuver it even in tight spaces. This product will come in very handy in facilities that have to be flexible in how they treat COVID-19 patients.

474 Utility Stand

Description:

The 474 is a larger version of the 356 Compact Utility Stand, with a 500 lb. capacity, two drawers, and double width. The stainless steel construction guarantees ultimate durability and makes the stand simple to clean after use. The 4” all swivel casters help make the larger stand maneuverable and easy to place in any location for short or long durations of time. The large top provides ample work surface area while the two drawers create lots of secure space to store valuable supplies. This utility stand is a versatile mobile solution creating additional storage and work space wherever a facility may need it.

Key Features:

  • 500 lb. carrying capacity allows for transport and storage of large quantities of equipment
  • Double width design provides ample work surface and storage space
  • Two drawers provide plenty of space to store valuables
  • Stainless Steel construction ensures easy sanitization and durability

Why is this a key COVID-19 product?

The 474 Utility Stand is a great solution for facilities that need extra storage and work surface space in rooms that have been redesigned to treat COVID-19 patients. The super durable stainless steel construction ensures simple sanitization procedures and that the 474 will be reliable for many years after the pandemic.

2523P Utility Cart

Description:

This 500 lb. capacity Plastic Utility Cart is super durable and able to transport supplies wherever they are needed. Its two-shelf deep well design ensures that your supplies will be secure and not fall out during transport. The shelves are precision molded from sturdy structural foam plastic to provide strength and dent resistance. This utility cart is built on top of rugged 8” pneumatic tires which allows you to maneuver through tough terrain, and within a facility. This model is an ideal solution for field hospitals or COVID tents as it is extremely durable and can transport essential supplies outside when you facility needs to. The 2523P is super reliable and its sturdy design with reinforced angle legs make it retain its quality over many years.

Key Features:

  • 500 lb. carrying capacity allows for transport and storage of large quantities of equipment
  • Deep well design ensures supplies won't fall out during transport
  • Precision molded structural foam plastic construction ensures reliability for years to come
  • Rugged 8" pneumatic tires ensure that this cart can transport supplies anywhere they are needed inside or outside

Why is this a key COVID-19 product?

The 2523P Utility Cart is the perfect solution for facilities that have set up COVID tents or field hospitals and need to transport medical supplies over uneven terrain. The durable design also provides dent-resistance and ensures that your facility can rely on this product for years to come.

COVID-19 has changed the way we look at the healthcare industry and has challenged the status quo in many ways. With hospitals having to adapt to new challenges from a pandemic, their equipment and methods have to change as well. Having versatile equipment is extremely advantageous for hospitals that are fighting against the pandemic and operating in ways they didn’t originally plan on. Equipment like medical carts and utility stands greatly improve a facility’s ability to change their layout to better protect patients, and to deliver essential supplies such as PPE all around the facility, or even to outside locations like COVID tents. Hospitals must be able to be flexible amidst the pandemic, and Lakeside manufactures tons of versatile medical equipment that can be shipped rapidly to help our healthcare facilities take on COVID, and provide patients the care that they need.

 

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How Healthcare Foodservice Leaders Are Responding in 2020

Pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan.

Many have prepared for emergencies like fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or mass shootings, but a pandemic was not on the list for the near future. Since being prepared is key to any good action plan, a lot of pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan. Nonetheless, they stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park with response plans created to anticipate the worst, respond immediately, and adapt to the inevitable changes to come. Circumstances differ from hospital to hospital due to location and outbreak, but food service leaders are working hard to keep providing food to patients and staff. Continue reading How Healthcare Foodservice Leaders Are Responding in 2020

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The Celebrity Appeal Behind Food Waste Reduction

Food waste reduction is popular for a variety of reasons. It fights hunger. It’s good for the environment. It’s appealing to younger consumers. And it’s profitable.

But there’s another type of popularity to consider when it comes to food waste reduction, and it involves celebrities and household names.

James Beard is arguably the most recognized name we associate with restaurants. The James Beard Foundation Awards are essentially the “Oscars of Food,” as every year, restaurants, chefs, journalists, writers, TV producers, bartenders, and sommeliers are given our country’s top honors. Now, they’re also educating us on how to make the most of our food.

With the release of Waste Not: How to Get the Most From Your Food, the James Beard Foundation provides some answers from several “scrap-savvy” chefs. Some of their tips?

  • Utilize roots as part of the dish. They can add a beautiful element, and depending on the type of vegetable, add a great bitter element.
  • Roast wilting vegetables like celery and carrots to bring them back to life.
  • Don’t peel vegetables. Instead of shedding the outer layer of a carrot or cucumber, wash it well, and use the brilliant colors. Citrus peels? Send them to the bar for use in cocktails.
  • Purée wilting herbs with olive oil before they turn black. Then freeze them for later use.
  • Freeze berries on a tray rather than together so they don’s stick to one another.
  • Use vegetable scraps, roots, tops, and greens to create vegetable stock.

These are just a few examples contained in James Beard’s book on food waste, but the Beard name isn’t the only one popping up in food waste reduction efforts. All across the country, famous chefs and culinary experts are joining the fray, as we look to reduce the amount of food we waste.

Wasted! The Story of Food Waste

A film from the late executive producer Anthony Bourdain, Wasted! The Story of Food Waste aims to change the way people buy, cook, recycle, and eat food. As seen through the eyes of some of the most famous chefs in the world, this documentary shows viewers how to make the most of our foods, transforming what most consider as scraps into incredible dishes.

Celebrity Chefs Across the Pond

In an article in Reuters, Chef Douglas McMaster described working in a previous job as a young cook, watching as hundreds of gem lettuces were thrown away as only the root was served… as a garnish. McMaster was the 2009 BBC Young Chef of the Year and now owns Britain’s first zero-waste restaurant.

“We like to think of zero waste as not having a bin,” McMaster said. “Every natural thing has a purpose, you just got to find out what that purpose is.”

Food Waste Pop-Ups

Chef Dan Barber was featured in the first season of Netflix’s critically-acclaimed series, Chef’s Table. Barber has been called a “philosopher chef,” and owns the prestigious Blue Hill restaurant in Westchester County, New York. He also owned a restaurant in Greenwich Village called Blue Hill, but changed it to a food waste pop-up called WastED, serving dishes from ingredients that would normally be headed for the trash.

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Did Someone Order Delivery? In-Room Service Gains Traction

In-Room Service Gains Traction Amongst Hospitals & Care Facilities Across The Country

The limitations and closures of gathering points in hospitals due to COVID-19 have impacted in-room service. However, special attention to in-room service was gaining traction well before the pandemic began. Doctors have always said food can be more than fuel for your body, and with the right nutrients, it can help in the healing process too. Some hospitals are using that concept, as well as patient experience, to change the stereotypes of hospital food for the better and improve patient satisfaction.  Let’s take a look at three healthcare facilities in particular that have started to take a more hospitality-inspired approach to in-room service.

UCLA HEALTH SYSTEM

Open 6:45 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., UCLA offers a restaurant ordering system where the kitchen cooks meals on-demand with menus updated to physician requested, plant-based meals with protein optional additions. Regularly scheduled tray service is still available to neuropsychiatry patients, which is why UCLA’s kitchen is separated into two sections to cater to both types of services.

Keeping in mind there is a 90-minute window between mealtimes, UCLA staff alternates between making and sending 25 trays to 1 unit in neuropsychiatric care and cooking and delivering room service tickets. This staggered approach has eliminated many challenges associated with offering both services.

Room service at UCLA is promised to arrive within 45 minutes but averages 28 minutes. What’s their secret? Food lifts.

Each floor has a dedicated cart with a timer for seven minutes. The cart is wheeled into the lift,  sent up to its designated floor, and the patient is immediately notified. To ensure quality, the cart enters into a pantry where hot and cold additions are added just before being taken to the patient, and the meal is delivered with food and drinks at the correct temperatures.

JOHNS HOPKINS HEALTH SYSTEM

John Hopkins offers Hotel-style, on-demand room service to their patients. They name this style of service the Johns Hopkins At Your Request program. Doctors realized there was a lot of food waste when they had patients ordering the day before, resulting in many being unavailable to receive their meals.

The John Hopkins At You Request program gives patients the flexibility to order their meals anytime between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and receive it within 60 minutes. To better accommodate nutritional diets prescribed to patients, John Hopkins also provides a nutritional department to help assist in meal decisions. Their diverse menu options are a significant factor in the success of the program.

The freedom to choose between traditional hospital foods like meatloaf and upscale items like salmon makes the patient feel satisfied with their meal experience, even when they don’t order the extravagant items. In fact, the majority stick with the traditional items, while the occasional upscale orders bring comfort to patients and family members who need it.

ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

St. Jude’s primary focus is on young patients and their families. Patients aren’t limited to in-hospital care, as many of their outpatients go through treatment at nearby housing sponsored by St. Jude and receive their customized meals there. They use a Combi Oven to deliver quality food within expectations of 30 – 45 minutes. As for their future plans for servie? They’re expected to upgrade their systems to TV-operated ordering services and explore newer cooking technologies. Nonetheless, their specialty is in the services they provide.

Considering the age of their patients, their happiness is a priority. The chef often greets patients with a hug and smile, with meals that are fully specialized to encourage the patient to eat and heal. So much so, that patients have even gone to the kitchen to teach the chefs how to make their food!

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The Impacts of Robotics in Health Care

Healthcare Robotics- Lakeside

In today’s environment, the healthcare industry has leaned heavily on technological advancements, particularly through the use of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Like many other industries, healthcare is impacted by a diverse group of factors. From the rising cost of coverage to meeting the challenges associated with labor shortages in the field, things are constantly changing. In order to deal with the reality of this landscape, the healthcare industry has leaned heavily on the technological advancements of today, particularly through the use of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Twenty-first-century healthcare has improved through these advancements, tapping into the potential of delivering quality care like never before. In a field that is overworked and in many cases understaffed, see how these new technologies are improving hospitals and care facilities all over the world. 

Robots Allow Clinicians More Time With Patients

A common misconception out there is that robotic technology and artificial intelligence will replace the healthcare labor force. This simply is not true. The job of these technologies is to complement clinicians’ skill sets, reduce workload, and free up time for healthcare professionals to carry out tasks and activities that will have a greater impact on patient care. Instead of carrying out administrative or repetitive tasks, clinicians can leave some of those responsibilities to robots, and focus on the aspect of their job that matters most: caring for their patients.

On average, primary care physicians work 11.2 hours per day. Nearly six of those work hours are spent interacting with electronic health data and records. There simply is too much data for one person or even a team of doctors to consume and analyze. With the help of robotic technology, and more specifically, AI systems, machines can scan thousands of records and cases in an instant, picking out correlations and patterns that can help treat patients with stunning accuracy. In a profession where time is of the essence, robots and AI can make amazing contributions with both speed and accuracy, allowing for longer, and more dedicated one-on-one care for doctors to have with their patients.

Covering Common Procedures

In most healthcare facilities, there are standard procedures that must be administered regularly to patients. Drawing blood, checking blood pressure, and administering shots are procedures that should be achieved regularly and with the same attention to detail. For these tasks, robots could prove to be quite an asset.

A recent study published by the journal Technology revealed some pretty remarkable findings. In the study, a robot device was successful at administering blood 87 percent of the time on the 31 participants in the trial. In previous studies, health care professionals recorded only a 73 percent success rate of patients with visible veins, while the robot device was successful 97 percent of the time. Utilizing robotic technology for these practices would guarantee that they were performed properly each time and save precious time for medical staff.

Improved Accuracy

In an industry where accuracy is critical and often the difference in life or death, developing technology that boosts accuracy to the next level is critical. In order to provide accurate diagnosis and treatments for patients, all data collected must be accurate. With robotics, administrative and recurring clinical duties, such as monitoring patient vitals or inputting patient data, will be achieved with remarkable efficiency.

The precision found in these robotics is unmatched by the human hand and potential errors that can happen. Take the Da Vinci surgical robot for instance. This amazing device has completed well over 6 million surgeries worldwide and equips surgeons with the ability to perform minimally invasive surgery with astounding accuracy. In addition, studies have shown that surgeries with this robot have resulted in far fewer complications following operations. With the help of robotics, surgeons will benefit from these devices greatly. By delivering small, precise incisions, robots provide immense value, allowing surgeons to not worry about possible human error such as fatigue or lack of range of motion.

Implementation Across The Entire Healthcare Landscape

Globally, Robot technology in healthcare facilities has ramped up because their benefits are too good to ignore. Not only do they allow for improved patient care, but they also impact cost savings and waste reduction, to name a few perks.

Throughout the United States, Automated Pharmacies that utilize robotic technologies are becoming extremely popular. Robots can update records sent from the hospital, label, package, store and fill prescriptions with ease and undeniable accuracy. Again, this allows pharmacists to free up time to educate themselves on medications and provide valuable insight and consultation for patients.

One of the rising trends in healthcare is telemedicine. With a shortage of health care professionals and the unavailability of specialized care in some remote locations, robotics provide a real solution to this issue. Complete with full audio, video, and camera capabilities, these telerobots provide timely communication, data tracking and enable clinicians the ability to remotely log in and speak with a patient.

Looking Ahead

There’s no denying, robotics and AI technology are rapidly changing the healthcare industry. Because of the many benefits related to cost, accuracy, and accessibility, care facilities are catching on and adopting these remarkable assets into their everyday operation. From surgical assistant robots to machines who carry out non-patient facing tasks like stocking and cleaning, these technologies are improving healthcare by leaps and bounds.

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Telehealth: COVID Trend or the Healthcare of the Future?

Telehealth has been a growing trend over the past 5 years, and the coronavirus pandemic has rapidly accelerated its use, but will telemedicine and Telehealth continue to grow, or will it die out with the pandemic?

First, let’s define Telehealth and Telemedicine, what do the terms really mean?

  • Telehealth is the use of digital information and communication technologies to access healthcare services remotely and manage health care. Telehealth can refer to many different things including health education services, remote monitoring of vital signs, and other remote clinical and non-clinical services.
  • Telemedicine is a much more focused term which refers specifically to remote clinical care between a patient and a doctor.

The idea of telemedicine has been around for a long time, but its potential is only just beginning to be realized. Physician use of telemedicine has been growing over the past few years, in fact its use rose 340% between 2015 and 2018, with about 22% of doctors using telemedicine in 2018 compared to just 5% in 2015. The big jump in telemedicine services is due to patient demand, as a 2017 survey found that 77% of patients would see a physician virtually.

Patients can use Telehealth services in different ways and for different issues. In 2016, the top diagnostic category for Telehealth was mental health which accounted for 31% of all claims, but the category fell in 2017 to only account for 7% of claims. Other categories rose to fill in this gap in 2017 with injuries or digestive system issues making up 13% of all Telehealth diagnoses.

How is Telehealth changing and helping doctors treat their patients? Here are a few trends that we are seeing.

Telemedicine is starting to be covered by more insurers

As telemedicine has exploded in recent months, more insurance companies as well as government programs are covering it, making it easier for patients to get the care they need. In fact, when the COVID-19 pandemic first struck America, the Trump Administration “Took bold and rapid action to dramatically expand services that can be provided via telehealth and make it far more convenient for patients and providers”, according to Alex M. Azar, the HHS secretary. As the entire healthcare landscape changed with the pandemic, the government and insurance companies are working to make it easier for everyone to receive the care that they need without having to risk their own or others health. In February of 2020, less than 1% of Medicare primary care visits were done via telemedicine, and as that number rocketed up to 43.5% in April, the government took the necessary action to facilitate this change.

There are till obstacles to fully utilize telemedicine

Although telemedicine has been a great solution to provide care during a highly contagious pandemic, it is not yet perfect and some doctors are still hesitant to fully embrace it. In 2018, a survey found that 90% of physicians viewed virtual care positively, but only 14% had the video capabilities at that time. Additionally, many patients that would greatly benefit from telemedicine do not have the technology to utilize it. Another obstacle that doctors must overcome is simply how new telemedicine is. Many older doctors who are great at their jobs and providing in-person care, do not get the training or knowledge they need about telemedicine to be able to accept it in practice.

It's all about mHealth

The use of mobile devices as a way to administer Telehealth services is called mHealth, and it is a growing trend. Using mobile devices is convenient and easy for many patients as a way to get the care they need and communicate with physicians. Many apps have been developed to help with mHealth, and many more are being developed to help find the right way for patients to be treated virtually. As most people own a smart phone device, mHealth is expected to continue gaining momentum and become one of the most common forms of Telehealth in the future.

Medical students are getting better telemedicine training than in the past

Technology is constantly evolving and improving, especially in the healthcare industry, so future doctors are learning about new technologies and how they will be able to use them to help treat their patients. Some older doctors that have used their tried and true strategies to care for patients are less inclined to adopt new technologies when they have already been able to treat certain conditions. However, many younger doctors are much more open to utilize new technologies in their practices because they have grown up in a more digital world. With the next generation of doctors getting better training and education about Telehealth, it is likely that over the next few years, the use of Telehealth will continue to rise and will be used in more ways.

Artificial intelligence is gaining traction in the healthcare industry

Artificial intelligence something that has the potential to completely change the world, but for now, it is starting to be accepted by physicians as a tool to help treat patients more effectively. Specifically for telemedicine, there are many different ways that A.I. would be able to enhance the patient experience, and make it easier for a doctor to make a correct diagnosis. Some people in the industry are worried that A.I. could take over the need for a physician and take their job, but in reality it should be looked at as a tool to make their jobs easier. There will always be a need for doctors as the human interaction plays a big role in helping patients feel comfortable and safe during their visit.

Is Telehealth here to stay?

Telehealth has been extremely useful for helping patients receive care during the COVID-19 pandemic, and had been trending upwards even before coronavirus hit. We are only just starting to see all of the possibilities that Telehealth presents, and with the government and other insurers adding extra coverage for it, we should expect to continue to see its growth. Telehealth will not die out when the pandemic ends, and maybe the next time you need to visit a doctor, you’ll simply have to open an app on your phone.

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How has COVID-19 Impacted Healthcare Facility Design?

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed some major flaws in our healthcare system as hospitals and other facilities struggled to provide space for the large influx of patients needing care. Due to the highly contagious nature of the virus, hospitals weren’t able to take in all coronavirus patients because of fear of transmission to healthcare professionals and patients with other symptoms. Modern healthcare facilities need an ability to adapt and be flexible to care for an increased number of patients in the face of a pandemic or other disastrous event, and this is the expected trend with healthcare facility design moving forward even into the post-covid era.

It’s an ever-changing climate of healthcare that we are living in, and nobody is certain what the future of healthcare design will look like, but there are some trends which are expected to be seen in hospital design soon.  

One of the biggest issues with hospitals today is the crowding of certain areas such as waiting rooms and entryways. Coronavirus has heightened everybody’s awareness of the importance of social distancing practices, so how can hospitals adapt to decrease the risk of virus transmission inside of their facilities?  

#1 Virtual Check-ins

Virtual check-ins will create less crowding in the waiting rooms, and simplify the process of going to a healthcare facility. By allowing patients to check in and provide all the necessary information about themselves from their phone or computer, it eliminates the need for them to come into the facility and wait for a doctor to be ready to see them.

This means that patients would be able to wait in the comfort of their own car and not have to worry about being in close proximity to other sick patients who could potentially infect them. Virtual check-ins will greatly improve the ability for healthcare facilities to effectively social distance in their waiting rooms.  

#2 Manage Patient, Staff, and Supply Flow

Hospitals can be confusing and difficult to navigate for first time or non-frequent visitors, so improving patient flow is important to reduce risk of transmission. Better patient and staff flow can be achieved by a few different methods, but the most important factor is communicating to patients and staff what certain areas are designed for.  

  • Widening hallways and walking areas to allow for a two-way flow with a sufficient amount of prevent spread.  
  • Designating certain hallways and one-way walking areas to prevent the crowding of these spaces. 
  • Designating one area as the entrance and another as the exit to minimize the exposure of patients to one another.  
  • Designing certain areas of the facility to be safe zones or hot zones in order to keep contagious patients away from non-contagious ones.

#3 Designing Flexible Facilities with the Ability to Adapt

Hospitals are built in order to be cost-efficient and effective at providing care to patients, but hospital administrators may need to spend some more money in order to be able to adapt in the future. For example, most hospital entryways are not designed to provide screening and separate out potentially contagious patients. A trend that we are seeing with new hospital designs is to create dynamic entrances that create a space for screening and providing appropriate equipment for patients. This includes providing PPE to patients right when they come into the building, as well as placing hand sanitizer dispensers or hand washing stations such as the Lakeside Portable Handwashing Station near the entries. This would help reduce patients anxiety about going to a hospital for the care that they need, which has been reported to be increasing over the past several months.  

Another way in which hospitals will likely be able to treat an influx in patients is with a flexible design of patient rooms. Basic patient rooms are a stable in all hospitals, but the facilities that were best able to treat a large increase in patients were the ones that adapted these patient rooms to be able to serve as an ICU or emergency care area. One of the best ways that hospitals were able to do this is with portable storage mainly in the form of carts. Utility carts are a great solution for hospitals to store their PPE or other important equipment, while other specialty carts and treatment carts are great ways for a healthcare facilities to adapt their spaces and treat patients in rooms that they do not normally have special equipment. Lakeside manufactures a large variety of carts to allow hospitals to be flexible in the face of adversity, and adapt to keep giving patients the best care that they can. 

#4 Telemedicine and Virtual Health

One of the bright spots that has come from the coronavirus pandemic is the emergence of telemedicine and virtual healthcare, which completely mitigates the risk of transmission of exposure to other HAIs. We are just at the start of the virtual health age, and are only beginning to see the possibilities that this advancement provides. Although telehealth is a great way to eliminate the chance of transmission and reduce the use of essential equipment, it is not perfect and certainly has its flaws, which means that healthcare facilities should begin to implement it when possible, but should still plan for flexibility in the face of a crisis.  

#5 Improved Cleaning Techniques and Space Management

Keeping equipment and surfaces clean has always been a very important part of healthcare facilities, but coronavirus has proved that some of these cleaning protocols need to be improved. One way to do this is by designating certain rooms to be used and others to be cleaned. For example, a hospital may designate a certain wing for all infectious patients, providing them with extra time to disinfect another wing while still treating patients, and then switch the halls when all patients have been treated. This would allow hospitals the time they need to properly clean an infected room, while not falling behind on treating their patients.  

Another way to improve the cleaning process would be to implement anti-microbial surfaces such as stainless steel or copper, although this could cause the hospitals to see an increase in costs. However, mitigating patients anxiety about going to a hospital is very important in order to ensure that everyone can get the care and treatment that they need without having to worry about leaving worse off than when they arrived.  

Flexible Design Is More Valuable Than Ever

Healthcare facilities need to constantly adapt with new challenges that they are presented with, and don’t expect this to stop anytime soon. The ongoing pandemic has only accelerated the trend of flexible hospital design, and in the future you should certainly expect a different experience when you go to the hospital. 

Lakeside Manufacturing understands the difficulties that healthcare facilities face, and as a supplier to the industry, we continue to manufacture state-of-the-art equipment to allow hospitals and clinics to quickly adapt to the environment and give their patients the best possible experience in receiving the care that they need.  

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How Robots Made Their Way Into Healthcare

Not long ago, the thought of robots in healthcare may have seemed to be a work of science fiction. However, the past 20 years has shown us that it is not only viable, but the path forward in the healthcare industry. Robotics offer the ability to treat patients with improved accuracy, disinfect rooms with a reduced risk of infection, provide companionship and perform other tasks that augment the abilities of healthcare professionals. Although some worry about the chaos that could ensue with ill-programmed robots in a healthcare setting, a methodical implementation of these devices is improving patient care as humans learn how to best work with technology for a better path forward.

Background

The history of fusing together technological advances with healthcare starts in the 1960s with the IBM 650 supercomputer that researched medical records to report on data abnormalities which could then be researched in closer detail by a physician. As technology continued to develop, healthcare application remained top-of-mind and by 1974, the first CT scanners were released allowing detailed imaging of specific cross-sectional images of bones, blood vessels and soft tissues inside a patient. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, researchers worked with developers to apply robotics to the healthcare industry, and in 1999 the da Vinci Surgical system was developed to perform minimally invasive surgeries. This signaled a major step forward for the healthcare robotics industry and ushered in a wave of innovations to occur throughout the 2000s up until today. Now, the robotics and healthcare fields are merging as developments are made each day with the end goal of providing the best patient care possible.

Surgery Robots

It may be hard to fathom a task as important as surgery being trusted to a robot, but the development in healthcare robotics has brought us to a point where robotic assisted surgeries are safer than similar operations performed without robotic assistance. As more hospitals are noting the benefits of these devices the more they are being utilized in operating rooms. This technology has seen a recent boom that is expected to continue as sales for surgical robots are expected to reach about $6 billion this year.

One of the most renowned surgery robots is the DaVinci Surgical System. This robot allows surgeons to perform complex, minimally invasive procedures with extreme accuracy and precision. The robot has been tested thousands of times and has performed thousands of procedures, proving its efficacy and safety. Today there are more than 1700 DaVinci systems installed in hospitals around the world and almost 1 million patients have been operated on by this robot. The DaVinci System is also considered the leading method for various operations with 86% of urology residency programs in the US owning a DaVinci system.

Some of the noted benefits of using a robot for a surgical procedure include the ability to precisely measure incisions to a depth no longer than needed, the ability to eliminate surgeon errors by leveraging surgical software, and the ability to complete a surgery in a less invasive manner due to intricacy of its instruments. The DaVinci Surgical robot is a great example of the teamwork required between technology and healthcare workers to provide optimal patient care.

Delivery Robots

Anyone who has visited a college campus in the past two years, may be familiar with the recent boom of delivery robots, however, hospitals are also jumping on the trend by utilizing robots for deliveries within the hospital. Some hospitals are already using robots for meal delivery in wards where patients have limited mobility, while others are utilizing complex cabinet robots that house and deliver medications with high accuracy.

One of the most prominent delivery robots is the Aethon TUG Robot. This autonomous mobile robot is built on an omni-directional platform allowing the robot agile movement throughout a hospital. It is built to support a wide variety of carts and racks to work seamlessly with any already existing infrastructure at the hospital. Robots like TUG offer a benefit to hospitals by taking the burden of complex deliveries off hospital staff so they can focus on patient care tasks that require a human interaction. Delivery robots are already utilized in many large hospitals across the US, which is a testament to their ability to accurately provide the service they are designed to perform.

Disinfecting/Cleaning Robots

Many of us know about the carpet cleaning Roomba robot, that vacuums a space autonomously without any user guidance whatsoever. The healthcare industry has its own version of these robots, but instead of picking up dirt and hair, it focuses on killing bacteria that cause hospital acquired infections (HAIs). HAIs pose a serious risk in hospital environments, infecting an average of 1 in 25 hospitalized patients across all settings. HAIs are a result of lingering bacteria and viruses in a hospital environment that infect a patient while they are in the hospital. Some of these infections can be very serious, with an estimated 99,000 deaths per year in the United States attributed to HAIs.

Autonomous robots such as the UVD Robot, provide a helpful, hands-off solution to disinfecting hospital rooms after a patient stay. UVD Robots, a Danish robotics company, created an autonomous UV light robot that emits UVC rays at an output level that destroys any microorganisms in its path. Some of these robots are already being used in the wake of COVID-19, offering a no-touch solution to disinfecting potentially hazardous hospital rooms where infected patients were staying.

Social Companion Robots

Another way robots are being used in healthcare is as a reliable companion for social interaction. Many companies have developed therapeutic robots that utilize advances made by artificial intelligence for human conversation. These robots have various features such as cameras, sensors and microphones that allow users to interact with them, keep them company when healthcare workers are busy tending to other patients, and some of these companions even have the ability to remind patients to take their medicine.

Many see social companion robots as a great tool to help busy nursing homes care for their patients, many of whom suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s. The consistent and ever-present social interaction provided by these robots helps to keep patients engaged which helps these patients cope with some of the day-to-day difficulties of these illnesses. As the healthcare industry learns more about the mental implications that support a patient’s rehabilitation, the more these social companion robots will be seen in long-term care facilities, inpatient clinics and other applicable healthcare environments.

Wearables

Wearables are a direct interaction between an individual and a unit of technology. Some common examples of this are heart rate monitors, pedometers, health watches, etc. These easily accessible items are great ways to track athletic performance during exercise and can show health trends over a period of time. The latest version of the Apple Watch is a great example of the future of this industry, by achieving a built-in electrocardiogram that monitors heart performance and can notify users of any irregularities. The ability to gain instant feedback on health performance is a huge step forward for wearable technology, and companies like Apple continue to push the boundaries of what small consumer wearables are capable of.

Another example of wearables for the healthcare industry are exoskeletons. Once a concept of science fiction exoskeletons are here and already being used on a daily basis in the healthcare industry. The first working prototypes were developed in the 1960s and 70s and have now developed to provide modern assistance to a wide variety of patients.

One example of a futuristic exoskeleton that is providing support for patients today is the HAL 5 Hybrid Assisted Limb. This impressive exoskeleton works by detecting the electrical impulses from the brain that indicate movement and provides instant support to the limb that is to be moved. This device has already been used to rehabilitate patients recovering from stroke, or those who had their movement impaired due to vertebrae damage or paralysis. Scientists also note that this technology can be used as a preventative device as well, providing leg and back augmentation for laborious tasks. Given the developmental trajectory of exoskeletons, consumers can expect to see various types of strength augmentation wearables such as these, used more frequently in the healthcare setting.

Electronic Healthcare Records (EHRs)

Although EHRs aren’t technically robots, they offer some of the earliest examples of technology merging with healthcare. EHR software allows hospitals to utilize a singular medical platform to accomplish the various workflows necessary during a patient interaction, all while working off a singular, consistent patient chart. For example, if a patient is admitted to the ER, transferred to a surgical unit, and then later brought back for multiple physical therapy sessions at an outpatient clinic, the single patient chart will house all of the information from each of those encounters.

Additionally, all of the billing workflows performed by a hospital are completed with this software as well, allowing hospitals to capture more specific information from patient interactions and provide more accurate billing information. As a result of an EHR implementation, hospitals experience improved patient interactions, code more accurate data per account for billing purposes and capture long-term efficiencies from standardized workflows and best practices built into these EHR systems.

Today, most large hospitals in the US have chosen 1 or multiple EHRs to best serve their inpatient and outpatient care needs. The modern hospital is now supported by large IT teams made up of analysts who are certified in a specific application of their hospital’s EHR software. Their job is to work with the professionals for their application to make updates, fix issues and generally support that area of the hospital from an EHR perspective.

Navigating the Future with Robots

Given the rapid developments occurring in this industry; doctors, developers and patients are encouraged by the positive results from merging technology and healthcare. Experts warn that as technology advances and we begin to rely more on its capabilities, humans must continue to sharpen their skills in both healthcare and robotics to properly navigate these colliding worlds and keep patient care at the center of all advancements. This collaboration between technology and humans is the future of healthcare, bringing a new sense of optimism as the healthcare industry continues to see patient care improve through the development of new technology.  A prime example of modern robotics use is the innovation seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.