The past few days of travel in Norway have been truly eye opening. After leaving Tromso on Monday, we headed to Trondheim where I had an opportunity to hold meetings with clinical and administrative leaders and take a tour of St. Olavs Hospital. The hospital is nearing the tail end of a rebuilding project that started in 1999 and will finish in 2012. They started with the notion that the patient would be at the very center of everything in the design of their new facilities. Some 5500 employees now work at St. Olavs. The campus includes, or will include, a heart-lung and emergency center, a women’s and children’s center, and centers for neurology, gastroenterology, mobility, and psychiatry. There is also a knowledge center, patient hotel, lab and supply center.
The various buildings on the sprawling campus are connected by an underground tunnel system. Supplies zip around on laser controlled robotic pallets that greet you and kindly ask you to step to the side if you happen to be in their way. Lab samples and small supplies are routed by an extensive pneumatic tube system. Patient rooms are private and arranged in small clusters. The rooms feel very home-like and have all the modern conveniences including flat-screen bedside monitors that provide access to television, e-mail, movies, Internet, and a variety of other services. All data, telephony, voice and video are IP. The hospital also has a reasonably contemporary clinical IT system. All patient records are electronic, although paper still exists in places. The day I visited, they were in the process of turning off all hospital printers as one more step in the transition to a fully digital campus.
I had a nice visit with one of the staff physicians, a geriatric specialist, Dr. Sletvold Seksjonsoveriege. He took me on a tour of a typical patient floor. He admitted that the transition to digital hadn’t been easy, especially for some of the older members of the medical staff. None-the-less, he applauded the progress that had been made and the improvements in patient safety and care quality. He said that younger members of the staff were eager for even more technology.
If you happen to find yourself in Trondheim and want to experience a truly contemporary and increasingly digital healthcare delivery system, take at look at St. Olavs. You will leave feeling quite optimistic about the future of healthcare.
Next time, I’ll tell you about some of the other healthcare facilities I visited on my trip to Norway and the grand opening of the European Health Innovation Center in Oslo.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft Corporation