New Surgical Digital Hospital

A new surgical hospital specializing in orthopedics and spine injuries is open in Houston. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, it is one of the first all-digital hospitals in the nation.

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Foundation Surgical Hospital will receive its first patient this week. A patient that will undergo a completely different hospital experience. Nurses here don't carry patient charts. There are no menus, no prescriptions, not even any x-ray films. That's because everything in this hospital is updated and transmitted electronically. Dr. Henry Blum is an orthopedic surgeon and the chairman of the board at Foundation Surgical Hospital. He says this is beneficial for both patients and physicians.

"We have built this facility so it maximizes safety of the patient, and in a number of areas. In drug ordering and dispensing so that there aren't any errors, in record-keeping and the digital nature of the medical records, the digital nature of the operating room itself in that everything is paperless and comes up on the screens."

Nurses carry tablet PCs with patients' information. Prescriptions are filed electronically. The patients even order their meals through a menu on the television. Blum says this hospital is the only all-digital hospital of its size in the country and one of the first in operation. It's also the first major hospital in the Galleria area. CEO Louisa Adelung says they started the plans for this facility about three years ago.

"A couple of the major challenges from a financial standpoint, of course is to get financing for a new hospital in Houston. On the other hand, Houston is growing and as it grows, needs more hospitals to serve the community. The other challenge is staff, because you know there is a huge demand for nursing staff and that kind of thing. We have such a convenient location that that's actually not been a problem for us at all."

The hospital will employ about 175 people when fully staffed, including 30 surgeons. Right now the hospital is staffing about 125 people. Dr. Blum says there are other places to get the kind of treatment available here, but he believes the specializations of the surgeons will draw patients from across the nation and even other countries.

"There are obviously excellent medical facilities here in Houston and this is just an addition, and is something a little bit special in that it is soley devoted to patients with orthopedic and spine needs. And so we can get some of the same care in a larger hospital, but there's a little bit of a distraction in a larger hospital in that they're also taking care of patients with other medical needs."

Foundation Surgical Hospital is funded by Foundation Surgery Affiliates, a health care management organization that works to develop and operate medical facilities. The hospital has contracts with major insurance companies and is working on becoming Medicare certified. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

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