The Oncology Clinic of the Future Is Here – A Real-Time Laboratory in Innovation

By Paul A. Hamlin, MD  |  Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Pictured: Corridor to exam rooms Corridor to exam and team work rooms

Imagine, for a moment, an experience at an innovative, patient-centered oncology clinic of the future….

As your day starts, your mobile device reminds you of your appointment time and location at Memorial Sloan Kettering and notifies you that appointments are running on time so you can coordinate with family members. 

When you arrive, the “smart building” automatically checks you in, alerting the phlebotomy unit and your treatment care team that you are in the building. A greeter escorts you to the phlebotomy unit and then into the consultation room, where you settle into a comfortable chair rather than onto an examination table. The beaming smile and calming voice of your sister reassure you that she’ll be present for your visit, as a videoconferencing screen virtually places her in the room with you. 

The technologically integrated room announces each person who assists in your care by name and job function. Your doctor sits next to you and explains your treatment plan as you review PET scan images together on a monitor and discuss when you should return for your next visit. The team answers all your treatment questions, and the nurse offers to send you video versions of the educational material and clinical trial synopsis so you can review it at home.

Sound intriguing? 

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Clinic of the Future at our 64th Street Outpatient Center (205 East 64th Street) is spearheading cutting-edge practices for this type of patient care and clinical research in people with lymphomas and multiple myelomas

The newly opened space, which debuted in June 2014, was designed in collaboration with patients, doctors, nurses, and top architects and design teams and aims to fashion an experience that will serve as a proving ground for the future. 

Real-time Location Tag Real-time Location Tag Waiting areas feature rotating art exhibits (including pieces by patients and staff) and provide comfort and convenience elements such as charging stations and work areas for patients and families. In our consultation rooms, we’ve created an intimate space that seamlessly transforms from examination to consultation mode via subtle lighting shifts and specially designed examination chairs. 

Behind the scenes, real-time location services are in place. Patients and staff wear unobtrusive radio-frequency ID cards that enable us to automatically check people in to phlebotomy and dynamically assign consultation rooms, resulting in decreased wait times, increased transparency  about delays, and timely updates that all add up to improve efficiency and work flow. Patients are no longer confined to waiting in one location.

Smart-Room Technology

By building the foundation of “smart rooms” responsive to each patient, we are preparing the way for the introduction of educational content and clinical research materials through in-room video portals that reflect an individual’s specific needs, based in part on the type of lymphoma he or she has. 

Through wireless technology, we keep patients and physicians eye to eye while reviewing laboratory or radiology results. Physicians are able to share information on their screens to examine trends in laboratory findings, view radiographic images, and coordinate care.  

Simultaneously, we’re building a video library of educational and clinical research materials to convey essential information about cancer care and treatment — all of which can be seamlessly shared via email and patient portals. 

The multimedia content will initially include nursing materials on managing symptoms, wellness content on restful breathing and yoga, nutrition advice, and clinical-trial briefs that present concepts in an approachable manner.

The “Why” of the Clinic of the Future

At the heart of all of these efforts is our relentless drive to offer the very best cancer care in the world, centered on the specific needs of each patient.

By boosting our ability to work as a team in embracing each patient and shaping individual treatment plans, the clinic enables us to provide the latest in cutting-edge approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately, the conquering of cancer.