by Yusuf Laher
Medical research is constantly pushing the boundaries of health care and redefining what is and isn’t possible. Keeping pace with this vigorous progress, hospitals across the globe are continually updating their equipment and services in order to offer the latest in high-tech medical care. From specialist cancer centers with state-of-the-art digital imaging scanners, to multi-disciplinary mega-hospitals featuring cutting-edge medical robots, these are 30 of the most technologically advanced hospitals in the world.
30. University of Missouri Health System: University Hospital – Columbia, Missouri
The University of Missouri Health Care network’s flagship institution, the University Hospital, underwent a major $203 million facelift between 2009 and 2013. Consisting of eight floors, the new tower houses the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center and patient care facility. This ultramodern cancer center boasts innovative, time saving “smart rooms,” which automatically record and wirelessly convey patients’ vitals and additional information to the system’s electronic medical databanks. On top of this, the center offers advanced imaging services such as 3D mammography and features “intraoperative teleconferencing technology,” which lets operating doctors talk with pathologists without leaving the room. The patient care tower also uses a ROBOT-Rx drug-dispensing device capable of supplying as many as 3,000 doses a day.
29. Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital – The Chesterfield – Bristol, U.K.
Opened in October 2013 in Bristol, England, Bristol Hospital – The Chesterfield is part of the Nuffield Health private hospital network. Complete with three digital operating rooms and an advanced diagnostic hub, the new facility is the first totally digital hospital in the region. “The innovative equipment used in the high-tech digital theaters will allow surgeons to have complete control over every aspect of their surgery,” explained Nuffield Health. The hospital’s imaging technology is up to the minute, featuring digital mammography, MRI, CT and high-definition endoscopy together with “five-star, state-of-the-art facilities.” According to the Bristol Post, the hospital, which cost $32.74 million to develop, has “[attracted] some of the country’s top consultants – a number of whom are leaders in their field.”
28. Upper River Valley Hospital – New Brunswick, Canada
The Upper River Valley Hospital in New Brunswick, Canada officially opened its doors in November 2007. The futuristic facility was set up in place of New Brunswick hospitals the Carleton Memorial and the Northern Carleton. Impressively, Upper River Valley is Canada’s first LEED-approved all-inclusive hospital. Adding to its eco credentials, the hospital is designed to be fully paperless, which means that medical personnel are able to manage patient data electronically. Outlining its advantages, then-health minister Michael Murphy said, “This means instant access to patient information to provide quicker care in an emergency, and an ability to immediately share information and consult with other health care providers outside the hospital.” The Upper River Valley Hospital – which cost $85 million to complete – is run by Canadian health authority the Horizon Health Network.
27. Hackensack University Medical Center – Hackensack, New Jersey
Based on the number of patients seen, Hackensack University Medical Center is the fourth biggest hospital in the U.S. Established in 1881, the center is part of a campus that comprises various buildings and sites. In 2011 the medical center inaugurated its new $130 million John Theurer Cancer Center building, which boasts over a dozen specialist departments and a dedicated staff of radiation therapy experts. New technology at the hospital includes tomosynthesis 3D mammography – a more precise and comprehensive form of scanning that helps with earlier cancer detection. In partnership with Citrix Systems, the Hackensack University Medical Center introduced a wireless system that medical personnel can use to assess patient data from computers and mobile devices, creating an improved and more efficient work environment.
26. Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center – Portland, Washington
Located in Vancouver, Washington, the Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center is part of Portland-based non-profit hospital system Legacy Health. According to Legacy Health, “Legacy Salmon Creek offers the latest medical technology in a warm, comfortable, family-focused environment.” The center is acclaimed for its top-tier joint replacement and stroke treatment programs. In 2012 the Joint Commission certified Legacy Salmon Creek’s Total Joint Program with a “Gold Seal of Approval.” Boasting a state-of-the-art facility, the program excels when it comes to shoulder, knee and hip replacement procedures. Along with Legacy Health’s Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center, Legacy Salmon Creek is one of just two centers in the wider area that employ advanced robotic MAKOplasty partial knee resurfacing.
25. Wooridul Spine Hospital – Seoul, South Korea
Offering a “Spine Total Care System,” Wooridul Spine Hospital is acknowledged as being among the top spinal treatment hubs in the world. Founded in 1982, today Wooridul is staffed by over 1,130 neurospinal specialists and various other personnel. The hospital network’s state-of-the-art central site was opened in Seoul in 2007; and now, according to Patients Beyond Borders, Wooridul “manages ten hospitals throughout Korea and has expanded into Indonesia (Jakarta), the UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), Turkey (Istanbul) and China (Shanghai).” Wooridul’s advanced services cover computer-aided navigation surgical treatments, biocompatible artificial joint surgery, and bloodless 5th digital spinal operations – including 3D C-arm, O-arm, X-MR and CT-guided procedures.
24. St. James’ Institute of Oncology/Leeds Cancer Centre – West Yorkshire, U.K.
In August 2013 the Leeds Cancer Centre in West Yorkshire, England became the foremost hospital in Britain – and the second worldwide – to commence offering groundbreaking Elekta Versa HD radiotherapy treatment. The Leeds Cancer Center is backed by the world-renowned St. James’ University Hospital, which was founded in 1925. The center operates in St. James’ Institute of Oncology’s relatively new Bexley Wing, which was opened in December 2007. Since 2009 the St. James’ Institute of Oncology has also featured the pioneering Leeds Gamma Knife Centre, which boasts the most technologically sophisticated Gamma Knife in the world – the $4.93 million Leksell Perfexion. Opened in 2012, the St. James’ Institute of Oncology’s radiology facility has apparently “been totally transformed thanks to an £850,000 [$1.4 million] investment” and offers integrated services and high-tech equipment.
23. Houston Methodist Hospital – Houston, Texas
Founded in 1919, Houston Methodist Hospital is the centerpiece of the Houston Methodist Hospital System. Situated at the Texas Medical Center – the biggest facility of its kind in the world – Houston Methodist Hospital is dedicated to redefining traditional health care practices and regularly places on U.S. News & World Report’s top hospitals in the U.S. lists. According to the Houston Methodist System’s website, its “surgeons perform hundreds of robotic procedures each year, using robotic technology to treat heart disease, prostate cancer, uterine tumors, uterine fibroids and other conditions.” The hospital boasts a quartet of sophisticated da Vinci Surgical Systems and promises “the country’s most advanced robotic operating rooms, providing patients the least invasive, safest surgical treatment for complex conditions like cardiovascular disease.”
22. Hartford Hospital – Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford Hospital in Connecticut boasts eight surgical robots, which are used to carry out robotically assisted prostatectomies, heart surgery, and urological and gynecological procedures. The hospital also engages robots to assist with education and innovation as well as research. In October 2012 its medical staff inserted a right ventricular Impella – described as a “mini heart” – into a patient for the first time in U.S. history. Besides this, the facility operates an O-arm surgical imaging system, which is used with Medtronic StealthStation navigational devices to precisely produce “real-time, intra-operative imaging of a patient’s anatomy with high quality images and a large field-of-view in both two and three dimensions.” Two more high-tech imaging gadgets at the hospital’s disposal are the Sentinelle Breast MRI and the LightSpeed VCT XTe 64 “slice” CT scanner.
21. Vale Hospital – Hensol, South Wales, U.K.
Opened in June 2010, Vale Hospital in Hensol, South Wales is one of the most technologically progressive hospitals in Britain. Jointly established by Vale Healthcare and Nuffield Health, the state-of-the-art private facility features a pair of ultramodern, custom-designed digital operating rooms. Here, high-definition image resolution allows for a more straightforward and efficient execution of difficult surgeries, and according to surgeon Tim Havard, it’s also “very helpful to have instant access to x-rays and other patient information… displayed on big screens.” These advanced operating theaters, together with the hospital’s two dozen private en-suite bedrooms, high dependency unit, set of consulting rooms and diagnostic imaging services, make Vale “the most modern private hospital in Wales,” according to its official website.
20. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) comprises a large network of hospitals and facilities collectively considered to be among America’s leading health care resources. Founded in 1893, the centerpiece of the enterprise is UPMC Presbyterian, which is recognized for its organ transplants, cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery, and stroke care, among other areas of expertise. In 2012 doctors from the center inserted two electrode grids into the left motor cortex of a patient paralyzed below the neck, enabling her to control a high-tech robot arm. According to The Atlantic, “The goal is to create mind-controlled prosthetics to restore some independence to the paralyzed.” UPMC also co-manages the Center for Assistive Technology. And in July 2013 it was named the ‘Most Wired’ health network in the U.S. for the fifteenth time in a row.
19. University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center – Houston, Texas
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is part of the Texas Medical Center in Houston. It was instituted in 1941 and in 1971 became one of the original triad of full-service cancer treatment facilities in the U.S. As well as undertaking cancer research and treatment, the center is a teaching hospital, offering advanced programs covering subjects such as cytogenetic technology, histotechnology, cytotechnology, molecular genetic technology, diagnostic imaging, radiation therapy and molecular genetic technology. In 2013 the school introduced a course in diagnostic genetics, which includes infectious disease and cancer genetics testing, molecular evolution and bioinformatics, and prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomics. And in January 2014 pioneering research carried out at the hospital suggested that tumor tissue testing for data relating to cancer genetics could be supplanted by blood testing.
18. Guy’s and St. Thomas’ – London, U.K.
The Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust includes Central London-based hospitals Guy’s and St. Thomas’. According to the trust’s official website, “Guy’s and St. Thomas’ has pioneered the use of robotic technology in the U.K.” These hospitals are particularly well known for their robot-aided urological procedures. The trust first introduced da Vinci Surgical Systems in 2004; then in 2011 it updated to the most recent da Vinci “Si” Surgical System, which has four robotic arms and a dual console – enabling two doctors to operate simultaneously. In 2012, with the help of Microsoft Kinect for Windows, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ became two of the first hospitals to trial “touchless technology,” allowing medical teams to use gestures and vocal commands to study and manipulate images without ever having to touch them. The aim of the technology is to minimize threats to the hospitals’ sterile surgical environments.
17. UCLA Health: Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center – Los Angeles, California
Opened in June 2008, the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center cost more than a billion dollars to build and equip. It is part of UCLA Health, which claims to be home to some of the world’s most technologically progressive hospitals. UCLA Health’s network offers advanced robotically assisted surgery, virtual robotic telemedicine, prostate MRI scans, dual-source computed tomography scanning, and PET/CT imaging. The operating theaters of the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center itself are filled with the most modern equipment available and are designed to adapt to changing medical technology. What’s more, they are outfitted with breakthrough audio and video-conferencing resources, which allow students and doctors to watch surgical procedures as they happen, from anywhere in the world.
16. Mercy San Juan Medical Center – Carmichael, California
Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael, California first opened in 1967; more recently, in late 2009, it added a contemporary, six-floor patient tower to its facilities. Mercy San Juan is part of non-profit operator Dignity Health, which also runs Mercy General Hospital, Mercy Hospital of Folsom, Methodist Hospital of Sacramento, and Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, among others. Dignity Health promises “nationally recognized care and cutting-edge technology in a wide range of medical services.” In 2013 Mercy San Juan got media tongues wagging when it introduced revolutionary “doctor on wheels” the RP-VITA robot – which has also enhanced Mercy General Hospital Sacramento and Mercy Hospital of Folsom’s medical armories. Doctors control the robots remotely using computers or mobile devices such as iPads and in this way can interact with patients and even make use of instruments like stethoscopes. This allows specialists to be available, at the touch of a button, from wherever they happen to be.
15. Massachusetts General Hospital – Boston, Massachusetts
Now the main hospital of Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital is located in Boston. It was established in 1811 and today is recognized around the world for its pioneering cancer treatment and diagnosis services. Furthermore, with a yearly budget in excess of $750 million, it’s home to the most extensive hospital-based research setup on the planet. In May 2013 the hospital introduced a state-of-the-art connectome scanner, which Discover magazine described as “the world’s most advanced brain scanner.” The high-tech device creates images that are up to eight times more comprehensive than those of regular MRI scanners – and in a fraction of the time. The hospital has also made advances in optical frequency domain imaging, near-infrared fluorescence imaging, optical coherence tomography, and sophisticated neurotechnology.
14. Ramkhamhaeng Hospital – Bangkok, Thailand
Founded in February 1988, today Ramkhamhaeng Hospital continues to uphold Bangkok’s tradition of providing high-caliber private health care. “Patients at Bangkok’s Ramkhamhaeng Hospital are met by high technology from the moment they first step inside, when they receive a ‘guide card’ that contains their data along with a barcode,” wrote The Nation journalist Jintana Panyaarvudh. Medical personnel then scan these cards to ensure that patients’ records, IDs, files and medication needs match up. When doctors have made their diagnoses, they enter the data electronically, with the prescription being transmitted to the hospital’s pharmaceutical department. For inpatients, Ramkhamhaeng utilizes a drug-allocating robot, which likewise decreases the risk of human error and speeds up the process. The hospital’s advanced services include digital mammography, 64-slice CT scanning and carotid ultrasound imaging.
13. Stanford Hospital & Clinics – Stanford, California
Now a branch of the Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford Hospital & Clinics was established in San Francisco in 1858, originally serving as the University of the Pacific’s medical department. After its relocation in 1959, Stanford Hospital was the scene of the first successful adult heart transplant in U.S. history – carried out in 1968. Then in 1981 humankind’s first successful heart-lung transplant was performed at the institution. In 2010 the hospital introduced a pioneering all-in-one diagnosis-to-treatment space known as the hybrid room, which includes “a stereoscopic biplane digital subtraction angiography system.” Stanford Hospital also features the renowned Stanford Cancer Institute, which boasts state-of-the-art facilities. And in May 2013 work began on a new Stanford Hospital & Clinics building, which is scheduled to open in 2018.
12. Cleveland Clinic – Cleveland, Ohio
Established in the city that gives it its name in 1921, the Cleveland Clinic is recognized as being among America’s four best hospitals. It encompasses ten Northeast Ohio facilities and is also affiliated with others in Florida and Nevada. Furthermore, a new center in Abu Dhabi is slated to open in 2014. In May 2013 Cleveland Clinic doctors teamed up with Sheikh Khalifa Medical City personnel to perform the UAE’s first cadaveric organ transplant. Closer to home, Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute is one of the top robot-assisted and laparoscopic prostate surgery facilities in the U.S. Aside from this, the Cleveland Clinic offers robotic heart surgery. And since 2000 the Cleveland Clinic Innovations team has been dedicated to helping pioneer cutting-edge medical devices and inventions.
11. Wattanosoth Cancer Hospital – Bangkok, Thailand
The state-of-the-art Wattanosoth Cancer Hospital in Bangkok is part of the extensive Bangkok Hospital Group. Offering technology together with innovation, Wattanosoth is the first private Thai hospital dedicated exclusively to cancer care. By 2001 it had caught the attention of medical tourists through its non-invasive and affordable Gamma Knife radiosurgery procedures. Wattanosoth also boasts Novalis radiosurgery, molecular-targeting therapy, and CT, MRI and PET/CT scanning. “We are committed to improving the quality of life of our patients and sharing our researches with fellow scientists and professionals, students and the community at large,” promises the hospital. Wattanosoth adds that it uses “the latest technologies and equipment available in the field” and that it is “amongst the top hospitals in the region.”
10. Asklepios Klinik Barmbek – Hamburg, Germany
Asklepios Klinik Barmbek in Hamburg is operated by Europe’s biggest private hospital network, Asklepios. The cutting-edge facility was completed in 2005 and specializes in dealing with complicated diseases. Areas of expertise cover obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, urology, neurology, and general and abdominal together with trauma and reconstructive surgery. Meanwhile, the center’s more advanced medical technology includes digital subtraction angiography equipment, a shockwave lithotripter, a CT scanning device, a left heart catheter-testing unit and MRI scanners. In 2013 a group of doctors at the hospital made international headlines after they successfully removed tumors from a patient’s liver with the help of an iPad. The innovative tablet-aided procedure was among the very first of its type in the country.
9. Gleneagles Medical Center – Tanglin, Singapore
According to Patients Beyond Borders, Gleneagles Hospital in Tanglin, Singapore “is a leading center for the care and treatment of cardiac patients… with strong technology resources for imaging and robotic surgery.” Gleneagles is among the most state-of-the-art hospitals in Southeast Asia and is a pacesetter in spinal surgery, neurosurgery and other robot-assisted surgical procedures. The hospital was founded in 1957, and in 1994 it established the pioneering Asian Center for Liver Diseases and Transplantation – the continent’s first private facility wholly focused on the treatment of every form of liver disease. Gleneagles also holds the distinction of being Southeast Asia’s foremost hospital to carry out a liver transplant from a living donor. Operated by Asian health care giant Parkway Pantai, Gleneagles earned a worldwide consensus honor from the Joint Commission International for quality patient care.
8. Clemenceau Medical Center – Beirut, Lebanon
Completed in 2004, the Clemenceau Medical Center in Beirut has been recognized as one of the top hospitals in the Middle East. Patients see the benefits of progressive treatments and technology, explains the center’s online statement, adding that it “is fully equipped with the most modern and advanced medical equipment.” The Clemenceau is associated with the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and is able to provide the latest in forward-thinking health care. Its “Robotic team” offers high-tech, robotically assisted laparoscopic surgery – a first of its kind in the country. Doctors use the revolutionary da Vinci Surgical System to carry out procedures in urological, gynecological, pediatric, cardiothoracic and general surgeries.
7. Mayo Clinic Cancer Center – Arizona, Florida, Minnesota
Founded in Rochester, Minnesota in 1889, the Mayo Clinic is the world’s biggest comprehensive not-for-profit health care network and is also among the top medical group practices in the U.S. In November 2013 the clinic collaborated with Northern Arizona University in an innovative approach to treating players from the college’s football team suffering from suspected concussions. Through the use of a remotely controlled V-Go robot, the players were to receive real-time assessments from an off-site Mayo Clinic neurologist. The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center – which has sites in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota – is acknowledged as one of the principal cancer facilities worldwide, thanks to its “leading-edge research” and “unparalleled cancer care.” In 2010 its Arizona cancer treatment facility launched a groundbreaking $182 million proton beam therapy program.
6. Bumrungrad International Hospital – Bangkok, Thailand
Bumrungrad International Hospital was established in 1980 in the center of Bangkok. According to Patients Beyond Borders, it has been a beacon of technology and innovation since its beginnings. It is presently Southeast Asia’s biggest private hospital and treats over a million patients annually using state-of-the-art equipment. The hospital’s advanced tech includes a cutting-edge Swisslog Automated Drug Management System, described as “Asia’s first pharmacy robot;” a Siemens Biograph 64 PET/CT medical imaging scanner that helps to identify cancers in their preliminary stages; image-guided radiotherapy capabilities; and an R2 CAD ImageChecker used in digital mammographies. Every year, people from all over the world travel to Bumrungrad International for modern health care in a “five-star” environment.
5. Palomar Medical Center – Escondido, California
In 2012 Palomar Health opened Palomar Medical Center, a revolutionary new facility in San Diego that Bloomberg Businessweek dubbed the “billion dollar hospital of the future.” Michael Covert, the president and CEO of parent company Palomar Health, calls the facility “a living lab.” For starters, eschewing a clipboard and stack of paperwork, registration involves looking into a biometric registration camera for a matter of seconds. Other futuristic touches include the world’s first wireless vital signs device, a pioneering new app that transmits patients’ waveforms to doctors’ special mobile devices, virtual visit-enabling VGo robots, and groundbreaking UV robotic room disinfectant machines. “They basically started with a whole clean sheet on how to design a hospital,” explained Bloomberg Businessweek journalist Sam Grobart.
4. Anadolu Medical Center – Kocaeli, Turkey
Opened in February 2005, the Anadolu Medical Center in Kocaeli, Turkey is considered one of the world’s leading hospitals. Affiliated with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Anadolu is recognized internationally for its ultramodern technology and top surgeons. It is among only a handful of European hospitals able to offer pioneering CyberKnife treatment, which is described as “the most advanced form of radiosurgery.” The hospital also provides TrueBeam radiation therapy, PET/CT medical imaging, telemedicine, linear accelerator machines, and electronic medical records. According to Patients Beyond Borders, “AMC prides itself on its marriage of cutting-edge technology with a patient-friendly environment.” Anadolu ranked seventh in Medical Travel Quality Alliance’s World’s Best Hospitals for Medical Tourists list in 2013.
3. Johns Hopkins Hospital – Baltimore, Maryland
The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore is internationally recognized as one of the leading hospitals in the world, and it has consistently grabbed top honors in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals list, across various specialties. It was first established in 1889 and today is spread out over around 20 of the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus’ 60 buildings. In May 2012 the hospital opened its new Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center and Sheikh Zayed Tower facilities, which together cost $1.1 billion dollars to complete. Dr. Edward D. Miller, Johns Hopkins Medicine dean and CEO, described the development as “a transformative milestone in the history of Johns Hopkins Medicine.” The hospital provides the most modern surgical technology available, intra-operative MRI, leading-edge imaging and radiology capabilities, an automated belowground supplies and waste transportation setup, and a high-tech equipment- and staff-locating system.
2. Fortis Memorial Research Institute – Gurgaon, India
With an impressive network of “super specialty hospitals” and a foothold in three continents, India’s Fortis Healthcare is one of the world’s leading hospital groups. Launched in April 2013 and billed as a “next generation hospital,” Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurgaon, India represents the nucleus of the group. The newly opened institute possesses a “complete spectrum of diagnostic and therapeutic technology, including several state-of the-art technologies that are first in the world, first in Asia and first in India,” according to its website. Thanks to its 3 Tesla Digital MRI scanner, Fortis Memorial Research Institute is the first hospital in the world to offer digital broadband MRI imaging. It’s also the first Indian hospital to contain a stem cell lab. Plus, it has a pair of voice-modulated integrated operating theaters, a 256-slice Brilliance iCT scanner, and a revolutionary “Brain Suite” featuring intra-operative CT used for the brain and the spine.
1. El Camino Hospital – Mountain View, California
Since opening in 1961, California’s El Camino Hospital has valued the importance of technological advancement. In 1971 it partnered with Silicon Valley company Lockheed to launch the original computerized medical information system. El Camino Hospital’s cutting-edge facility in Mountain View opened to the public in November 2009. Explaining its geographical advantage, urologist Dr. Sari Levine said, “Not only did we get a robot to do a lot of the procedures, we get the newest version because the company’s down the street.” The hospital’s high-tech equipment includes advanced robotic radiosurgery device the CyberKnife. “Literally all the procedures that you can imagine that could help patients in radiation therapy are available here under this roof,” said medical director of the radiation oncology department Dr. Robert Sinha.