What is the future of hospitals?

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With the strain on hospitals in the UK, and a growing dissatisfaction with the quality of healthcare provided by hospitals in the Western world, a shift in healthcare norms is urgently required to keep life expectancy rates rising across the globe.

Consumer-focused care

Firstly, healthcare is built up around the desires of a patient, and as a result, are more focused on “customer service” if you will.1 As hospitals are becoming more like business ventures, it is natural that more focus and care will be placed on the feelings of the patient. This may seem unnatural, but in other Western countries, pharmaceutical companies and various other drug companies, sell their products to hospital chains which have good public relations, which will only be bolstered by great patient care. Although the main motivators for this are economic factors, it is also valuable for the welfare of patients, as firms which own hospitals, try harder to improve the healthcare which they provide. Furthermore, doctors and other professionals in hospitals are likely to receive bonuses for better performances, when treating patients and conducting numerous successful operations, which undoubtedly improves a patient’s so called ‘customer experience’, as well as recovery, as there are greater incentives for the healthcare professionals.

Places of treatment

As technology improves, ambulances will be able to treat more cases, without having to transport patients to hospitals in the first place, reducing pressure on these establishments, which will improve the care and treatment provided. Also, hospitals seem likely to differentiate themselves from their current functions, in the future. More hospitals will become ‘specialist hospitals’ or “preventing illness” hospitals, changing the purpose of different hospitals drastically. This will mean that the government in the UK will save more money on the NHS, and firms abroad will have a lower costs, due to the economic benefits that come with this process. In addition to this, in rural areas, inpatient services will decrease to a bare minimum, as they are a huge cost for the hospitals.However, as this occurs, healthcare providers will be able to increase their outpatient and emergency services, which are the essential requirements for hospitals in the first place. For both rural and urban hospitals, more affiliations with other hospitals in the same region are expected, giving them a greater level of purchasing power, and thus a better delivery time of required goods and services. This would essentially means that private hospitals over the world, including in the UK, can provide a better service, which will convince more members of the populace to take up the option of private healthcare, over the free service of the NHS (National Health Service).

Greater efficiency

Hospitals in the future seem certain to have greater channels for handling visitors and ambulances to drop their patients off, giving them valuable extra time for doctors to operate on these patients. On top of this, hospitals will have online apps and portals, which will allow patients to book themselves into a hospital before they have arrived, therefore preparing the hospital for the reason a patient is coming into A&E (Accident and Emergency), thus improving the quality of care as specialist doctors would be forewarned of any sudden rush in patient numbers. This brings us to the idea of wards being transformed into pods. The term pod, refers to an isolated area where a single patient is dealt with.3 This means that more pods can fit into an area than wards, as a conventional hospital requires corridors to move from one ward to another, while with the use of pods, there is no need for corridors and each pod is almost a separate hospital for a different patient, though the distance between them is limited.

The future of healthcare is something which we are all very curious about, with many looking into the potential developments in the pharmaceutical and medical industry, but for them to be worthwhile, the design and function of hospitals have to change, in order to allow for these advances in medicine to be implemented within the key areas.


References

  1. Radcliffe, S., 2018. Hospitals In The Future. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health-news/future-of-hospitals-in-five-years#2> [Accessed 5 May 2020].
  2. Lambert, V., 2016. Inside the hospital of the future. The Telegraph, [online] Available at: <https://www.telegraph.co.uk/wellbeing/future-health/hospitals-of-the-future/> [Accessed 5 May 2020].
  3. Jerrard, J., 2005. The Hospital Of The Future. [online] The-hospitalist.org. Available at: <https://www.the-hospitalist.org/hospitalist/article/123000/hospital-future> [Accessed 5 May 2020].
  4. Menear, H., 2020. Smart Hospitals: The Digital Future Of Global Health. [online] Healthcareglobal.com. Available at: <https://www.healthcareglobal.com/hospitals/smart-hospitals-digital-future-global-health> [Accessed 5 May 2020].
  5. Featured Image- Riaendovascular.com. n.d. Cholecystostomy: Gall Bladder Drainage. [online] Available at: <https://www.riaendovascular.com/services/gall-bladder-drainage/> [Accessed 6 May 2020].

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