Hospitals of the future in the making

Ash Shehata

As we move into the next stage of IT enablement for healthcare, hospitals and health insurers will need to help lead the charge on population health and care coordination. The entire focus of healthcare reform has been to expand access and improve care and quality for the population, and ultimately for the individual.

Clearly the drive to healthcare risk management and accountable care has captured everyone's attention. And, it is safe to say we have only just begun this transformation, which may take a decade to fully settle in. 

Today, we associate the hospital with the center of our healthcare world  -  a physical building enabled with high technology and a highly trained staff. Yet, in our models for accountable care, the patient centered medical home may be the new center of the not so distant future. It may be the primary care clinic. It may be the senior center. It may be the employer. Or, it may even be the school or home. As we imagine the hospital design of the future, we should consider what it would take to literally build a hospital without walls. 

Here are the five key design elements of the hospital of the future  -  without walls: 

1. The ability to design a digital profile of each individual  -  i.e. healthcare CRM

2. The ability to see and engage virtually via high-definition video, anytime, anywhere and on any device

3. The ability to create centers of collaboration excellence both inside and outside of our communities

4. The ability to access massive amounts of data without putting it in one container

5. The ability to leverage social media as a care coordination platform, not merely a collaboration platform 

The first technical reality is already under way in retail and financial services. That is the ability to know each individual and to tailor the needs of our services models to each person. Breakthroughs in science will come as personalized medicine progresses. So must our model for patient engagement. 

The future will bring healthcare CRM systems that can leverage data and services from multiple systems to create a unified view of an individual. With that view, healthcare systems can design personalized care management programs and anticipate demand. This ability will create interesting opportunities as we engage providers and patients. As individuals use the healthcare system, customer care can be just a phone call, video call, instant message or text message away. And community resources can be dispatched remotely rather than waiting for a patient to enter a central care facility.