In pictures: The tech behind Macquarie's new hospital

Behind the scenes technology at the Macquarie University Hospital

  • The life-sized surgical dolls at the hospital's neighbouring Macquarie Advanced School of Medicine can be used in much the same way as cadavers for learning surgical operations as well as providing vital signs. The dummy operating theatre accompanies a classroom which surgeries are filmed and reticulated to screens in the classroom for discussion and analysis.

  • Standard definition cameras capture all the action in the educational operating theatre.

  • Dynamic modelling results from the CT/PET scanner appear on the workstations in the molecular imaging department. Relevant personnel process the images, which are then available to all doctors and staff both in the hospital and externally through its VPN.

  • Despite lacking a medical school a year ago, Macquarie University has become a hub of medical research overnight, with a brand new, state-of-the-art hospital, an advanced school of medicine, and it will soon play host to the global headquarters for Cochlear Limited and a hearing hub for varied deafness societies. The Macquarie University Hospital itself is wholly owned by the university, and features a number of Australian firsts, including a completely paperless workflow for both patients and staff.

  • The face of the hospital's IT infrastructure is the Siemens HiPath HiMed Cockpit, a laptop-like thin client that is installed for 150 of the hospital's 199 beds. For the patient, the cockpit will provide entertainment, as well as the ability to make daily meal choices, use the phone and browse the web. The cockpit also acts as an electronic record for the patient, replacing the "dreaded chart" and effectively making for a paperless hospital. Authorised swipe cards bring up a new interface for medical data and relevant patient information, allowing input for dosage and, ideally, eradicating common human errors by staff.

  • The hospital's chief information officer, Geoff Harders, shows off key features of the Siemens cockpit. While the system is effective for long-term patients, he says many cancer patients will simply be administered through a mobile trolley with similar record capabilities. The possibility of a mobile device is slim, too; Harders said the inability to print from the iPad was a dealbreaker for staff hoping to carry around an electronic health record of the patient, while the screen real estate of smartphones and even purpose-builty mobile devices simply weren't up to scratch for healthcare for the time being.

  • Mr Bean, anyone?

  • A combination CT/PET scanner provides detailed imagery of a patient at both the atomic and molecular level simultaneously, providing a greater view of glucose activity in a patient's body. While not unique in Australia, the cooperation of PET and CT experts at the hospital leaves Macquarie University Hospital in the unique position of being able to deliver and use the information in a single department.

  • One of the hospital's two CT/PET scanners. The hospital has a third, mobile CT scanner set up in the operating theatre, allowing surgeons to scan a patient while still on the operating table.

  • A secure glucose delivery system for the CT/PET scanner.

  • The glucose delivery system is part of a $150,000 trolley, with the hospital owning one of only three of its kind in Australia. Despite the high tech gadgetry involved, CT/PET scanner operators still have to input patient dosage information manually, as the trolley does not offer a way to transfer existing records, either through cards or wirelessly.

  • An operator monitors one of two linear accelerators during its testing phase. The accelerators are part of an therapeutic oncology department run below the hospital by Genesis Health.

  • A willing test subject tries out the linear accelerator itself.

  • The linear accelerator in action (hopefully not radiating the patient's brain).

  • Several daughter boards run the linear accelerator behind the scenes, with a number of safety obstacles to prevent over-radiation of a patient in the event of an incident.

  • Behind the linear accelerator.

  • While not pretty, this loading device is part of a much wider system known as the much-flaunted Gamma Knife. The one-of-a-kind device is similar in function to the linear accelerator but, instead of using a single laser, utilises 192 lasers focused on a single point for greater accuracy and capability to focus on specific points in a patient's brain. The 12-tonne companion device is loaded with 192 capsules of cobalt which are then used in the Gamma Knife to concentrate gamma radiation on brain tumours or disorders.

  • Recordings of the test procedures are stored on 12 160GB hard drives through IT infrastructure provided by Stryker.

  • A classroom at the Macquarie Advanced School of Medicine.

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