US Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center

Facility Communication Distribution Systems: The technical centerpiece of a fully functional medical treatment facility

FTI-Medical, Huntsville Center
Published March 4, 2019
Huntsville Center’s Facility Technology Integration - Medical (FTI-Medical) program implements facility communication distribution systems like this patient service ticketing kiosk inside Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas.

Huntsville Center’s Facility Technology Integration - Medical (FTI-Medical) program implements facility communication distribution systems like this patient service ticketing kiosk inside Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (March 4, 2019) – Providing information technology and communications infrastructure for any military facility requires specialized technical expertise, but doing so for military medical treatment facilities requires an even more distinct set of skills.

Medical facilities are special in their operation because they not only must consider the need of the patients they serve, but they also must be particularly mindful of rules and regulations related to personally identifiable information in a medical setting like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

Put more simply, these communication systems must be designed with cyber standards in mind while also providing added benefits to patients and medical staffs.

Not only does Huntsville Center’s Facility Technology Integration - Medical (FTI-Medical) program offer technical expertise for this mission, but that expertise spans the entire process of implementation: from design, development and procurement, to integration, installation and project management oversight.

The medical-specific systems that fall under the category of facility communication distribution systems, or FCDSs, are numerous and varied. They include electronic wayfinding systems, wireless internal communications systems, paging systems, nurse call systems, server rooms and data centers, and Voice over Internet Protocol telephone systems.

The implementation of FCDSs is at the heart of FTI-Medical’s mission, and the advantage of FTI-Medical is its ability to implement these systems in cyber-ready, turnkey form.

Previously known as Medical Communication Infrastructure and Systems Support, the program adopted the FTI-Medical name to better align their purpose with the mission of providing technical solutions to Department of Defense customers in the form of FCDSs.

Major customers of FTI-Medical include the Defense Health Agency, U.S. Army Medical Command, U.S. Army Regional Health Commands, and the U.S. Army Health Facility Planning Agency.

FTI-Medical also partners with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ geographic districts that are doing construction-related projects to assist with this specialized area of FCDS/information technology. Our partnerships with the districts provide superior, integrated facility solutions for USACE customers.

A good illustration of these partnerships was during a recent project in a new hospital at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, for their new Omnicell Automated Medical Dispensing System. The system, which is intended to ensure the hospital has the capability to automatically keep up with the inventory of medications on hand and keep a just-in-time inventory of all required pharmacy items, required the combined work of FTI-Medical, the Health Facility Planning Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Far East District. Huntsville Center’s own Engineering Directorate lent their expertise as well.

Another recent memorable project is the initiation of a $90 million Vocera wireless hands-free internal communication system (WHICS) single award task order contract (SATOC), which allows all services of the Defense Health Agency to order hardware and software items, operations and support renewal-related items, as well as purchase full installation of new Vocera WHIICS systems all within an improved timeframe. The average turnaround time for these items to be procured is about 30 days, and delivery is no longer than 30 days. This is a dramatic improvement to any single medical treatment facility that would procure separately.

The system itself is also an improvement. The Vocera WHICS allows hands-free internal communication systems in military treatment facilities using wireless access points in the facilities and can be integrated into local nurse call systems, which allows for faster patient response times for medical attendees.

Because the medical community is often tasked with renovating and building hospitals on tight timelines, project managers should always be mindful that medical treatment facilities are not fully functional without the enabling force of facility communication distribution systems. FTI-Medical is there to do just that.

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To learn more about exactly how an FCDS is defined, refer to Army Regulation 420-1, Table 4-2, and Chapter 12 of the Unified Facility Criteria 4-510-01.

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Stephen Baack, a public affairs specialist with Huntsville Center, contributed to this article.