How digital twin technology offers a solution for Canada’s healthcare sector
September 5, 2023
By Canadian Consulting Engineer
A digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical system that provides real-time data, predictive analytics, and simulation capabilities.
In the rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, hospitals face increasing pressure to optimize efficiency and reduce costs. To tackle these challenges, the implementation of digital twin technology offers a transformative solution.
A digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical system that provides real-time data, predictive analytics, and simulation capabilities. Simply put, it’s a digital model that uses data-driven predictive technology to solve problems before they happen. Leveraging the power of digital twins, hospitals can revolutionize their operations, create efficiencies, enhance decision-making, shrink costs, and ultimately elevate patient care.
Historically, the infrastructure sector has been slow to adopt new technology, but SNC-Lavalin is moving full speed ahead with the use of digital twin technology in a wide range of projects.
In Vancouver, SNC-Lavalin is currently using digital twin technology on the Canada Line, one of North America’s best-performing public transit rail lines. Drones, train-mounted scanners and remote sensors are providing data from key assets on the line to the digital twin. This virtual representation of the real-world rail system analyzes the data to identify critical flaws, create efficiencies in maintenance, improve safety, and ultimately optimize passenger flow. SNC-Lavalin’s first large-scale digital twin for passenger rail in North America is ensuring the Canada Line will continue to see ground-breaking efficiency, performance, and sustainability and become a benchmark for bringing railways into the future.
SNC-Lavalin is also currently exploring how digital twin technology can help in its journey to transform hospital infrastructure and operations across Canada. Engineers are working on the integration of digital twin technology to provide the framework for the collection and analysis of data at a level not possible with human analysis alone. By leveraging real-time data, predictive analytics, and simulation capabilities, hospitals can pave the way for increased efficiencies that could revolutionize healthcare operations and improve patient care.
“We’ve been using digital models for quite a few years, mainly to support design work on industrial projects,” explains Jean-Pierre Rivard, the lead Building Information Modeling (BIM) Manager at SNC-Lavalin. “We want to continue to innovate and push the boundaries and leverage these digital models to their fullest capacity across a variety of environments, including for hospitals.”
What is not known to many is that there are several advantages to using digital twin technology in a hospital setting which include:
- More efficient movement of people, materials and supplies within hospitals
- Optimized resource utilization and streamlined workflows
- Fewer patient treatment delays
- Reduced infrastructure maintenance time
- Increased building performance and sustainability
- Cost savings
“In a hospital, digital twin models can be used to address things like circulation bottlenecks,” says Mathieu Latouche, Director, Public Sector – Local & Provincial of SNC-Lavalin. “People, patients, medical staff circulate inside the hospital at the same time as a myriad of things like linens, and sterile equipment. By using digital twin technology to collect and analyze data, as well as replicate an existing facility, we can provide optimal solutions to improve the efficiency of circulation inside the hospital and to always ensure safety for all users.
“One of the additional benefits of using a digital twin technology is that it allows for real-time, predictive maintenance, which saves time and money. We can connect sensors to any mechanical asset that we need to monitor continuously. The data gathered with these sensors can then be used to identify equipment failures before they happen,” says Domenico Statteri, Digital Twin Lead Canada at SNC-Lavalin. “An equipment breakdown in the operating room or the ICU could have a huge impact on both staff and patients. The use of digital twin technology in this context is a very good way of minimizing the impact and improving the overall efficiency of the facility.”
Healthcare is top of mind for all Canadians as it has an important impact on the most vulnerable in society. The use of digital twin technology in hospitals could be a transformative solution in helping address challenges facing healthcare.