Palomar Health creates "Hospital of the Future"

Largest public hospital district in California  Three hospitals and two skilled nursing facilities  714 hospital beds and 129 long-term care beds  4 walk-in care centers  4,000 employees and 3,000 caregivers

Largest public hospital district in California

Three hospitals and two skilled nursing facilities

714 hospital beds and 129 long-term care beds

4 walk-in care centers

4,000 employees and 3,000 caregivers

California’s largest public healthcare system planned to build a new 740,000-square-foot “Hospital of the Future” and upgrade existing hospitals. Designed to be technologically advanced, the new facility required a scalable, forward-looking IT infrastructure to support current and future technologies. Burwood Group engaged IT staff, clinicians, administrators, and technology vendors to create and implement an infrastructure strategy aligned to the vision of the new facility. 

As California’s largest public healthcare district, Palomar Health serves an 850-square-mile area, with a trauma center that covers more than 2,200 square miles of South Riverside and North San Diego Counties. In addition to three hospitals, Palomar Health offers home health care, surgery, skilled nursing, ambulatory care, behavioral health services, wound care, walk-in clinics, a physician practice organization, and community health education programs. 

In 2013, Palomar Health opened the new, state-of-art, 740,000-square-foot, 11-story Palomar Medical Center on a 56-acre campus in North San Diego County. As a world-class, state-of-the-art “Hospital of the Future,” the new facility is designed to support advanced healthcare technologies and new levels of mobility and collaboration among caregivers, patients, and families in a unique healing environment. 

Palomar Health engaged Burwood Group early in the development process for the new facility to plan and implement a forward-looking IT infrastructure that could support the ambitious vision for the new hospital. Burwood Group was selected for its knowledge of advanced healthcare technologies, its deep understanding of the healthcare environment, and its track record of working with more than 170 healthcare organizations. 

Acting as an extension of Palomar Health’s Interim CIO, Burwood Group led development of the infrastructure for the upcoming Palomar Medical Center and spearheaded network upgrades at Palomar Health’s other two hospitals. On behalf of Palomar Health, Burwood Group became an integral part of the construction team for the new facility, engaging with the general contractor, hospital staff, and caregivers throughout the development process.

Identifying the requirements 

The core requirement for the new facility was a secure, yet flexible, high-speed infrastructure and wireless network that could support rapidly evolving healthcare technologies, such as mobile clinical communications, real-time location services (RTLS) and sophisticated medical devices, as well as building and administrative systems, patient education broadcasts, in-room entertainment and guest Internet access. 

“We needed a network that would anticipate future technologies as we translate new ideas into real-world opportunities to drive improvements in patient care and operational efficiency,” said Prudence August, Palomar Health Executive Director of Information Technology. 

“In addition, we needed scalable infrastructure that could accommodate future facilities planned for the new campus.” 

Burwood Group recommended a converged network backbone, rather than allowing multiple vendors to maintain their own switches and parallel networks. A shared backbone would provide Palomar Health with greater control and would help reduce security risks that come from having multiple access points to a network. Also, this strategy would simplify future technology deployments. 

Another recommendation was to incorporate an automated maintenance solution using the Cisco network. “Given Palomar Health’s plans for additional facilities and services on the campus, along with the cost pressures that all health systems face, we needed to streamline the maintenance so the organization can focus on its mission,” said John Curin, Burwood Group Vice President of Advisory Services. 

A second infrastructure strategy was to implement a data center solution based on server virtualization, which will significantly reduce hardware expenses as the organization expands. With this highly efficient, scalable data center solution, computing power is only used when an application requires it, increasing efficiencies and reducing IT costs.

Implementing the strategy 

Burwood Group worked directly with the vendors to help connect their solutions into the network. The vendors were wide ranging, encompassing technologies such as building management and power control systems, closed-circuit security video surveillance, lighting controls, wayfinding, clinical systems, and more. 

Palomar Health also needed best-of-breed solutions for key new areas of patient service. Burwood Group assisted the organization with creating requests-for-proposals for the selection of systems for patient education, wireless temperature monitors and various location-based services for wayfinding, tracking equipment and devices, and patient and staff location management. 

In collaboration with caregivers, Burwood Group created a next generation clinical mobility platform based on Cisco collaboration and communications technologies. The system provides physicians and caregivers with highly secure, concurrent access to patient health data from a smartphone or tablet.

Burwood Group also helped Palomar select a best-of-breed solution for alert and alarm management — another critical service requirement. Burwood Group engaged the clinical staff to establish the workflow process for alarms and alerts, and implemented a “go live” and training program to ensure adoption. 

“Having a consultant that could serve as an extension of our team, engage our stakeholders and collaborate with caregivers was invaluable throughout this project,” said August. “We also welcomed the third-party expertise regarding the most appropriate technologies for our vision.” 

Healthcare Technology Services:

  • Strategy & Roadmapping

  • Facility Technology Development

  • Data Center Design & Optimization

  • Program/Project Leadership

  • Mobile Clinical Communications

  • Wireless Networking

  • Infrastructure Strategy

  • Technology Architecture

  • Training for Adoption

Designed for today’s technologies — and tomorrow’s 

Today, Palomar Medical Center is one of the most technologically advanced hospitals in the United States. With a secure wireless network available throughout the building, caregivers and other staff can quickly share important patient information with each other, no matter their location or mobile device, while at the same time patients and their visitors enjoy convenient high-speed Internet access. 

The facility’s high-capacity network infrastructure supports extensive connectivity options for electronic medical records and medical devices and has simplified deployment of future technologies, including next-generation mobile wireless tracking, remote robotics, biometric personal identification, automated medication dispensing, technology-enabled surgical techniques and more — all the new technologies that will characterize the “Hospital of the Future.”