New hospital filled with futuristic technology

January 26, 2010 8:27:52 PM PST
It was promised to be the hospital of the future and now that it is up and running, the new El Camino hospital facility in Mountain View is employing a complex mix of high technology and new innovation.

Strolling into El Camino Hospital in Mountain View these days is a bit like stepping into the future. It is a place where nurses and staff are linked together with Star Trek-like communicators.

And everything from medicine to food deliveries can arrive via robots. In this new $480 million facility some of the most advanced technology is found inside surgical unit.

In one of five new operating rooms, outfitted with built-in high-resolution monitors, doctors work to repair a damaged heart valve, but instead of a traditional open-chest surgery, they are able to reach the heart with an investigational catheter procedure, like the one recently performed on actress Liz Taylor.

"We happen to have five of these rooms. You know, they are uncommon to begin with, but to have the flexibility to do our job and have that many options for us is just tremendous," said Interventional Cadiologist Jim Joye, D.O.

Down the hall, doctors and technicians say they are able to diagnose developing conditions much earlier using advanced MRI's and CT scanners.

"For example, any kind of a tumor, you would see it earlier on, and you would see it better on the high resolution scanner," said chief of radiology services Imtiaz Qureshi M.D.

A palm print-scanner used at registration is designed to ensure that information in medical records is never transferred to the wrong patient, while another system can beam a patient's vital signs and examination results to a central server, where it is instantly added to the patient's file.

"It's got almost all the latest technology you can put in a facility for health care purposes," said VP of facilities services Ken King.

King says many of the new wireless technologies are supported by systems built right into the walls and ceilings during construction. And while he estimates the added technology alone runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars, he believes the efficiency it brings more than justifies the cost.

"There's many more efficiencies in this new environment that we're in. It's absolutely the hospital of the future," said King.

One other innovation may be invisible to the eye, but patients may appreciate by the ear. Engineers employed special acoustic materials in construction, designed to make the hospital a quiet as possible.

This report was written and produced by Tim Didion.