Walking into the newly-built Royal Adelaide Hospital, it’d be easy for anyone to forget that they’re in a medical facility and that’s one of the defining principles of what the Future of Healthcare is about: human-centered healing.
The light that pours through a two-story glass atrium at the main entrance greet the visitors. As they make their way through the hospital, photographs of south Australian landscapes and aboriginal artwork dot the hallways. Doctors contemplate their work on terraces in the fresh air and patients exercise in sky gardens. Fleets of robots deliver customized meals, clean linens, and surgical tools throughout the facility.
This hospital isn’t just a technological marvel; it’s a work of art. It might seem like an architect’s dream but it’s already a reality for thousands of Australian doctors and patients.
The Royal Adelaide Hospital opened in September of 2017, replacing—and vastly outpacing—its previous version. Today it has 800 beds and 40 operating theaters that serve 85,000 inpatients and 400,000 outpatients each year. The massive facility cost US $1.9 billion and spans three city blocks, making it Australia’s most expensive building project ever—and the third most expensive in the world.
Tech with a human touch
From cutting-edge technology, to efficient design, and a patient-centric approach, innovation is the theme that binds Adelaide together.
World-class technology ensures each patient receives optimal care, allowing them to do everything from select their own meals using an in-room computer system, to receiving medication through an automated pharmacy’s dispensing cabinets. Friends and family members of the patients can navigate the hospital without stress by using touch screen kiosks that print out personalized directions.
The hospital has leveraged green technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent, including energy-efficient fittings, the optimization of natural light, and rainwater harvesting.
The benefits of technological innovation expand far beyond the hospital’s walls: tele-health facilities mean Adelaide’s care extends to remote, rural areas, where the residents might not have access to facilities of similar standards.
Efficient design saves time—and lives
In a hospital environment, a mere minute or two can be the difference between life and death. Hence, the innovative design of a large medical facility like the Royal Adelaide Hospital can save thousands of lives every year.
When patients arrive to the emergency department, they’re taken immediately to one of 70 individuals cubicles (replacing the curtains used in traditional emergency rooms), eliminating time spent in a waiting room.
Critical care units are stacked on top of each other to reduce patient transport time, including vital services like blood transfusions. Rapid lifts mean any part of the hospital is accessible in under two minutes.
Touch-free doors, especially to bathrooms, reduce germ transmission by preventing patients from ever coming into contact with door handles. Automatic swinging and sliding door operators mean that patients navigating crutches or wheelchairs can move with ease throughout the hospital. The same smart doors, paired with automated security systems, can also protect patients who cannot safely move throughout the hospital on their own or who are in danger of trying to leave unaccompanied.
Putting the patient at the center
Many hospitals around the world primarily cater to the needs of doctors or administrators. At Adelaide, however, the patient’s journey to health is in the center of each stage of care.
Every patient stays in their own en suite room with windows that open to let in fresh air and natural beauty. Each room has a day bed so that any overnight carer can stay without compromising comfort.
Putting the patient at the center means caring for everyone who orbits around them. The food court opens to a large, outdoor amphitheater where doctors, nurses, and researchers can gather and collaborate. There are almost four hectares of landscaped parks and internal green space, including over 70 courtyards, terraces, and sky gardens. Everyone at the hospital has access to amenities like a bank, a post office, a gymnasium, restaurants, and child care center.
Empowered with the latest innovations, Adelaide Royal Hospital gives a glimpse into how the future of healthcare will be: patient-centered, innovative, and healing. It’s existence is proof that modern, flexible medicine isn’t a pipe dream; it’s already a reality waiting to spread around the world.