1/2016

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Scalable testbed for best possible healthcare

The OYS TestLab looks exactly like a small hospital, but a really modern one – and the walls are on wheels with weights on them. “Everything is modular, dynamic and quickly changeable, based on the need. We currently can simulate 90% of healthcare operations in a hospital.” Timo Alalääkkölä is the project manager of OYS TestLab, an ambitious project that serves as the primary testbed to create the best possible healthcare environment based on best practices, prototyping, product testing and professional feedback.

Around us are surgical beds, equipment for infants, even a 3D printer. “That’s for agile prototyping, which is really quite crucial in a project like this.” Everything has to be changed quite fast if need be, from walls to equipment ­– of which there is a lot.

Companies provide technology, personnel provides feedback

Alalääkkölä makes a point that this place is not intended to be a museum, but a showcase of the best and latest technology available. “That’s why there’s no point in buying all this, so most of this is just on loan. We give the companies a testbed in a realistic environment, and they provide the equipment.” For instance, they recently took to find out whether the digital stethoscopes on the market were sufficient and cost-efficient for the hospital’s use, and conducted a model test, from which the gathered data is now at the use of the board of purchases and acquisition. All this helps improving the processes – and actual products.

“We got a lot of requests for prototype testing in the beginning, and still do – with the way we can provide feedback and suggestions for improvement, companies find it very valuable.” But it is not only the equipment, but also the actual environment and what is done in it that is under scrutiny. “We have volunteering patients who participate in the simulation sessions as observers and provide valuable feedback.

Physical and virtual alike

The project hospital is just like a functioning one, although not all equipment is connected – but it could be. In addition to that, they already have a cave environment for quickly testing new solutions in hospital environment management.

“It’s clear that things are changing in healthcare. Patients spend less and less time in a hospital environment, and monitoring their health will increasingly happen at home.” From idea through development to testing, they plan to cover all the steps.