It is no secret that each year hospitals and healthcare companies are being asked to do more with less. This leaves most industry executives looking towards technology advancements for the solution. One solution quickly coming to fruition is the vision for the hospital of the future. Equipped with new technologies to make healthcare facilities more efficient, the hospital of the future will lower cost via outpatient care, result in fewer admissions and re-admissions and improve patient outcomes, all while reducing much of the stress of navigating the healthcare system.
The “Perfect” Hospital Room
Optimal room design using the best in technology can improve the patient experience by reducing delays in care, reducing cost by optimizing clinician travel and task assignment, and increasing speed to treatment by reducing bottlenecks. New technologies such as telemedicine, wearables, predictive monitoring and robotics can help diagnose and treat patients beyond the traditional hospital and likely in the comfort of their own homes, relieving strain on remote family members and helping patients have overall better experiences and outcomes.
With the growing importance of the government’s Population Health initiative and as our populations continue to age, our society is demanding more convenience and more connectivity to care. This means hospitals must evolve and incorporate technological medical advancements for the benefit of the patients, caregivers and physicians, and adopt a hospitality approach to healthcare delivery. This goes beyond just the implementations of EHR’s and into a more interactive and holistic approach that includes patients.
Hospitals of Today vs. Tomorrow
Today, hospitals are where patients go for consultations with their specialists and where their specialists, with the help of the highly-trained medical professionals and expensive technology, diagnose their symptoms and treat their conditions.
In the world of tomorrow, hospitals will have high-speed internet, passive-monitoring technologies and big data analytics capabilities to improve the patient experience. By incorporating high-quality remote monitoring systems into hospitals and embedded IOT technologies, some chronically ill patients who need continuous care will be able to stay at home, only going to a medical facility when their conditions require a critical response. By moving some care outside the institutions, hospital networks can both save money and give critical priority to the patients who need it most.
This idea of a futuristic hospital is not a completely new concept. Some hospitals have already made great advancements to their medical facilities. Places like California’s Palomar Medical Center and Northwest Medical Center are already thinking about new ways to build hospitals and incorporate technologies, which shows promise for the rest of the industry to follow suit.
By rethinking the most efficient way a hospital should be built instead of just building or refurbishing hospitals due to demand, we can make vast improvements in the overall experience. For example, we can reduce the number of steps caregivers have to walk each day, making their time with each patient that much more personal. By incorporating wearables and using data analytics, we can provide strong real-time quantifiable data to ensure practitioners are as efficient as possible. Being able to strategically place equipment throughout the hospital creates more effective time spent with the devices, minimizing wait times and reducing stress to the healthcare professionals who need them.
Another futuristic concept that has taken off in television dramas and is not too far behind in real-world application is wearable patient-worn devices. We already have commercialized devices that track steps and heart rate, but imagine if all inpatient and outpatient vital signs were continuously monitored and could flow wirelessly from the patient to the hospital system and into their electronic medical record. The possibilities for preventative care would extend far beyond the capabilities available today.
Incorporating predictive analytics into every hospital will allow for remote monitoring, which would bring patients home sooner, free caregivers to look after patients in need and drastically reduce the time taken to manually input patient records. These devices would also free up the backlog in emergency rooms and eliminate the need to fill out paperwork right when a patient walks into the ER.
Catching Up with Global Standards
In 2017, The Commonwealth Fund rated the United States healthcare system as the worst among the 11 developed nations it analyzed as part of an evaluation conducted every three years. The United States had the highest spending as a percentage of GDP and ranked the lowest on the Health System Performance Score.
The United States was also the worst-performing of the countries analyzed when the last evaluation was last conducted in 2014. Despite our spending on healthcare, it is clear we have room for improvement in the delivery of healthcare. This is our opportunity to continue to revisit the hospital of the future until we are able to improve our net result and reach a better standing for our healthcare system in the United States.
Balance between Simplification and Advancement
Hospitals are eager to simplify and optimize their IT systems in order to achieve quality outcomes for patients. By incorporating optimization within IT systems and advancing predictive analytics, passive monitoring and other advancements, we can begin to use the copious amounts of data at hand to ensure the hospital of the future model provides not only the best care when needed but the best care before it is needed, all while including the patient from the onset.