RC110 JanFeb 2024 - Magazine - Page 28
Our healthcare system is ultimately about people and
their communities, and digital twins can revolutionize how
patients relate to and receive care from their hospitals.
A VIRTUAL RECOVERY
How digital twins can help heal Canada’s healthcare system
ISING DEMAND, tight budgets, aging population: our
healthcare system is facing complex challenges.
Common to solving all of them, however, is data.
With accessible real-time data, hospitals can make
better decisions, keep vital equipment running,
and save money in the process. That’s exactly what
digital twins have the potential to o昀昀er—yet implementing
them successfully depends on how well we can integrate
the needs of providers, practitioners, and patients alike.
Our healthcare system is facing a matrix of urgent
problems. Some old facilities are struggling to conform
to today’s standards and are increasingly falling short
of patient expectations. A lack of coordination leaves
hospitals unable to get the right balance of sta昀昀. Failing
medical equipment adds to the burden of backlogs and
disappointment. And these ongoing problems impact the
public who rely on hospitals and inevitably risk damaging
Yet the broader context is making this even more pressing. Between 2005 and 2020, Canada’s healthcare expenditure more than doubled, and is continuing to rise. Canada’s aging population will only put more pressure on
the system, and growing sustainability requirements will
challenge hospitals to reduce their carbon footprint. Unless our healthcare system becomes more e昀케cient, it won’t
be able to meet these challenges.
Fundamental to all of these issues is a lack of data. To
transform, our healthcare system we must improve decision-making across the board. Better, more accurate, and
more far-sighted decisions depend on better data.
Data can enable hospitals to identify and eliminate
ine昀케ciencies, replace sub-optimal maintenance regimes
with targeted interventions, and deliver a better patient
experience. Yet it’s not straightforward. How we undertake digitizing hospitals and healthcare will determine the
extent of the bene昀椀ts.
is Lead BIM Manager
M&E – Canada, with
28 RENEW CANADA – JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2024
Twin to win
Digital twins are virtual replicas of a physical system
powered by real-time data and predictive analytics. They
can simulate di昀昀erent scenarios so hospitals can anticipate and solve problems before they arise.
In the event of a 昀椀re, for example, it is not always
possible to evacuate patients quickly as some may be in
dire situations and not mobile. Because of this, code and
regulations require there be areas of refuge in hospitals
equipped with proper ventilation systems that allow for
these areas to be smoke-free for a period of two hours
to enable organized patient assessment. Information
extracted from a 昀椀re simulation done via digital twins
can ensure that this system meets requirements during
this two-hour window and enables patient evacuation.
A similar simulation could also be done in the case of an
underground parking lot to ensure carbon dioxide emission is at a safe level during peak hours or that ramps are
de-iced properly in winter to avoid collisions.
From supply chains to sta昀昀 rosters, maintenance schedules to future investments, digital twins allow hospitals
to test a variety of potential pathways, allowing them to
make more informed decisions. By leveraging this power,
hospitals can transform their operations, create e昀케ciencies, enhance decision-making, shrink costs, and ultimately elevate patient care.
This technology isn’t a ‘nice-to-have.’ Rather digital twins contribute directly to success on the ward.
For example, surgical rooms for brain surgery are now
equipped with MRI systems so practitioners can use
imaging to better treat the patient. These systems are thus
highly critical, and if they shut down during a surgery,
the consequences could be catastrophic. Even if they
break down after hours, surgeries may have to be postponed or rescheduled at another care center, putting even
more pressure on the healthcare system.
by Jean-Pierre Rivard