CHOC Children’s Heart Institute, Center Provides Latest Tech Innovations

With exciting technology at every turn, The Bill Holmes Tower at CHOC Children’s is filled with the latest equipment and innovations – and the CHOC Heart Institute is no exception. Set to open in the new space next month, the Heart Institute and its Heart Center boasts advanced technology that will help physicians ensure successful patient outcomes.

Dr. Anthony C. Chang (on left) – the Heart Institute’s medical director who also leads a group of medical community members charged with exploring changing medical technology – talks more about the innovations inside the Heart Institute.

Q: What new equipment and technology will be found inside the Heart Institute?
A: We’ll have advanced imaging such as three-dimensional (3-D) real-time echocardiography, and magnetic resonance (MR) and computed tomography (CT) angiography with 3-D anatomic reconstruction.

One of our two cardiac catheterization labs will be a hybrid laboratory so that both diagnostic and interventional cases can occur. Also, we’ll have a cardiopulmonary stress testing suite, where we can perform stress tests and stress echocardiogram testing.

For the first time, these services will be available under one roof: It’s like a separate heart hospital.

Q: What are the advantages of a 3-D echocardiography?
A: An echocardiogram is an ultrasound-derived image, and with a regular echocardiogram, you see a two-dimensional picture on a screen. It doesn’t give you any depth – it’s just basically slices of images. A 3-D echocardiogram gives you depth and a more detailed picture of the heart’s anatomy. It’s like watching a 3-D movie: You get more depth and a more realistic picture. This is particularly important in children because their heart defects can be so complicated.

Q: What are the benefits of 3-D reconstruction in MR and CT angiography?
A: Angiography creates images of the heart’s blood vessels. MR angiography uses magnetic fields, and CT angiography incorporates contrast dye that is injected into a vein. Both techniques generate an image of the heart, but a 3-D image gives us a clearer and more detailed picture. Again, this is state-of-the-art imaging to look at heart defects in children.

Q: How is today’s technology improving the care and outcomes for young patients with heart conditions?
A: Technology leads to more precise diagnoses and better imaging.

Q: What advancements can we expect to see in the near future?
A: Innovation is leading toward equipment and techniques that create less invasive ways to assess and treat a patient’s heart.

Q: What features are you most excited about in the new Heart Institute?
A: Technology is very exciting, but we’re also working toward developing several other clinics within the institute, such as a heart failure clinic; a sports heart health clinic; and a clinic for overweight and obese children; and a cardiovascular genetics clinic. I would like the Heart Institute/Center to become a community resource for heart health.

For more information about the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute, please visit

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Fully Wired for Patient Safety

All hospitals must take proactive steps to reduce the risk for possible human errors that lead to medical mistakes. But at CHOC Children’s, early investment in health information technology has undoubtedly improved patient care and saved lives.

The opening of our new South Tower next spring will further demonstrate the possibilities of health information technology. From seamless communication between hospital departments, to “plug and play” medical devices that automatically stream accurate, up-to-the-minute information into electronic medical records, these systems will promote better care while reducing the possibility of human error; hence, patient harm.  

Health Information Technology Enhances Patient Care
Although increasingly rare, medical errors are most likely to occur because humans are involved. Automating such manual tasks as calculating medication dosages or entering information into a patient’s chart reduces that risk.

Years ago, CHOC Children’s worked with the Cerner Corporation to automate the process of entering medical orders into electronic patient charts. Every CHOC physician participated in this project, and now the system we helped design is being adopted by hospitals throughout the country.

The opening of our South Tower will take our existing health information technology to the next level. For the first time in our hospital’s history, every patient service will be provided within a completely pediatric-focused environment. This includes the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department, as well as surgical, radiology, laboratory and pathology services.

Building on the sophisticated infrastructure already in place, CHOC will connect all of those services into one system. This means from the moment a child enters our doors, sharing patient information across hospital departments will be greatly enhanced.

Our upgraded health information technology system features additional patient safety features:

• Surgery “Wall of Knowledge” — a large flat-screen monitor providing essential patient information for the surgery team, including the medical record, vital signs, lab results, images and an extensive safety check process. A sophisticated remote camera system will immediately display pathology results and images to waiting surgeons, as well.

• Emergency Department Patient Tracking System —  tracking each patient from the moment of arrival, enhancing communications and workflow through automated notifications.

• Bar Coded Blood Transfusions — automated to further ensure patient safety.

• Bedside Laboratory Specimen Labeling — portable computers that scan patient ID bands and print labels at the bedside, ensuring accurate specimen labeling.

• Computerized Medication Safety System — scanning patient ID bands at the bedside to ensure each patient receives the correct medication, and at the correct time.

• “Plug And Play” Medical Devices — including patient monitors and IV and medication pumps that stream patient information directly into the medical record.

Advanced Nurse Call System —that immediately connects patients and families to the nurse’s smartphone, as well as the nursing station.

And best of all, these upgrades are taking place throughout the CHOC Children’s campus. That’s because we know it’s about more than just having the right tools for the job — it’s also about leveraging those tools to the safest possible extent.

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