Trending Technology: A discussion with the QEII Redevelopment Project’s IM/IT leads Jim MacLean and Justin Haynes

Justin Haynes and Jim MacLean
Justin Haynes, Senior Systems Analyst for the QEII Redevelopment Project and Jim MacLean, the project's Manager of Information Management/Information Technology (IM/IT)

Both Jim MacLean, Manager of Information Management/Information Technology (IM/IT) for the QEII Redevelopment Project and Justin Haynes, the project’s Senior Systems Analyst pride themselves on the lens of expertise they provide the health care project. They recently sat down to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the role of IM/IT in health care. 

Road to Redevelopment: How important is the use of information technology in our hospitals? 

Jim MacLean: Much of the clinical work that takes place at the QEII, in our operating rooms or cardiac catheterization lab for example, wouldn’t take place without IT. It’s our role, with biomedical engineering, to make sure the technology that the surgeon depends on to operate is functioning correctly. We are a crucial part of safe and reliable patient care. 

Justin Haynes: The work of IM/IT impacts every aspect of the hospital: the admission and registration process, clinical procedures, building control systems that manage heating and air conditioning, and all that’s in between. 

RR: Describe the challenge of planning the IM/IT requirements for the new construction of the QEII Redevelopment Project. 

JM: Our work gives us a very challenging and exciting opportunity. Similar to other areas that are part of the project, we’re being tasked to predict how our service will evolve from now until opening day so that the new buildings are launched with leading-edge technology that will benefit patients, staff and physicians. 

RR: Does health technology evolve quickly? 

JM: The biggest difference between health care tech today compared to the past is that most products now are network connected. For example, a bed used to be just a bed, now it’s a smart bed and can remind staff to turn a patient every two hours to reduce bed sores, or alert staff to a falls risk because the patient’s bed side rails are down. 

Right now, in the Victoria and Centennial buildings, there may be one data connection per bed. While we don’t know 100 per cent what’s coming, we do know the current requirements for data are much greater than one data connection per bed. There are standards in use today that include 14 data connections per bed for all the new wired equipment required for patient care. 

RR: How do you determine what technology is just a fad and what is here to stay? 

JM: We do a lot of research; we talk to other hospitals, vendors and document trends. But we also maintain a healthy level of skepticism and realism. Sometimes low tech is the best technology, and other times you need to be on the leading edge. 

RR: As technology continues to advance, how will it affect patients, staff and physicians? How will the technology of the new QEII Redevelopment Project builds compare to the present day? 

JM: The forward evolution of health care technology will further accelerate patient recovery, decrease patient stay, enhance patient safety and create a better overall patient experience. It’s also technology that will make staff and physicians’ jobs simpler, save time and ease workload and likely save money, too. A great example of this is smart microscopes. Now microscopes can view slide samples, automatically count cultures, take pictures of what it’s viewing and add all of the information automatically to a patient’s medical record. 

JH: New technology usually creates new work processes, and many find that idea challenging. Our colleagues are more than willing to try and have embraced these challenges. 

JM: We’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible with new technologies, but we’re privileged to be working to provide Nova Scotians with leading edge health care facilities 

THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED.