Helping hospitals get smart: Optimizing heath services for patients through “smart” hospital design

The Challenge: Create optimum health service delivery

When Alberta Health Services made the decision to build a new academic health campus, the vision was to create an environment that would not only support the needs of both patient and provider, but also anticipate them, creating a seamless delivery of service. To meet such high expectations, the new South Health Campus would have to change its processes at the organizational, technological and facility-design levels and tackle several challenges including inadequate engagement of clinicians, lack of evidence-informed decision-making, and resistance to change.

The Improvement Project: Engage clinicians and make planning decisions based on evidence

EXTRA project team members Ted C. Braun, currently, Clinical Department Head, Department of Family Medicine Medical Leader, Public Health, Primary Care and CDM Calgary Zone, Alberta Health Services and Tracy Wasylak, Vice President, Strategic Clinical Networks and Clinical Care Pathways, Alberta Health Services used two strategies to accomplish the task. The first was to engage the ideas and enthusiasm of clinicians by establishing a Clinical Design Team (CDT) that would assist with the planning process. The second was to leverage evidence by making decisions through an integrated model of knowledge translation among South Health Campus decision-makers, clinicians and local health services research groups. Using the CDT approach, the EXTRA team used the relationships between two research groups—clinicians and decisionmakers— to enable several collaborative projects.

The Result: Clinical Design Team approach builds a push–pull exchange of knowledge

Results suggest that using a Clinical Design Team is an effective way to engage clinicians in the planning process. The relationships developed with the two research groups have created a culture of collaboration in which the South Health Campus team succeeded in influencing the groups’ research agendas and, in turn, the results of the research informed planning for the Campus. South Health Campus evolved the relationship to the point where a true push–pull exchange of knowledge occurred.

The Impact: Extending lessons to other capital projects

Results suggest that the Clinical Design Team improvement may be a useful way to assist planning for other health services and capital projects, particularly when significant change is desired. The improvement team was able to establish emerging evidence for the importance of engaging stakeholders when transformational change is taking place. Indeed, results have shown that health system decision-makers need to make such engagement a priority when they are contemplating major change.

Ted C. Braun
Clinical Department Head
Department of Family Medicine Medical Leader, Public Health
Primary Care and CDM Alberta Health Services


Tracy Wasylak
Vice President
Strategic Clinical Networks and Clinical Care Pathways
Alberta Health Services
Calgary, AB


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