The hospital of the future will focus increasingly on outpatient surgery with entirely connected technical spaces.
More outpatient care, prevention and personalised medicine thanks to digital technology
What will hospitals be like in 2035? Given the rate at which technology is revolutionising the healthcare sector, says Mitch Morris, MD, an American oncologist with experience in healthcare administration, physicians today would barely recognise a hospital if they took a trip through time to 2035, just as healthcare professionals 20 or so years ago would if they walked into a hospital today.
Although it’s difficult to predict exactly how digital technologies will affect hospital care in the future healthcare, Dr. Morris has identified some of the main trends.
- The rise of outpatient care: the volume of inpatient care in American hospitals has already declined considerably over the past 20 years, and experts predict that this will continue: outpatient volumes are set to increase by a further 17% in the next 5 years. Inpatient care in the future will eventually be exclusively for intensive care, according to Dr Morris.
- Prevention: in order to keep healthcare costs down, hospitals will focus primarily on remote care and prevention, particularly for sufferers of chronic conditions, who will benefit from better medical insurance cover.
- Personalised medicine, which involves using genomic information in treatment decisions, is already being experimented with, particularly for cancer treatment. Experts predict that technological advances will further drive this trend in the future.
- The virtual, mobile hospital: advances in medical technology and virtual communications will mean more and more treatment can be given remotely, thus reducing hospital stays. Healthcare institutions meanwhile will become increasingly specialised.
The transformation of hospitals is already well underway
A number of pilot projects, renovated hospitals and new-generation healthcare centres prove that the digital transformation of the healthcare sector is well underway (see the emedia article: Hospitals 2.0. by 2015). Among the more striking examples of innovation in healthcare is the specially-designed hospital room of tomorrow, a mini revolution in itself, such as the Concept Room, a state-of-the-art outpatient room developed by Clubster Santé, one which Econocom is a partner.
Other new innovations include a surgeon performing an operating with Google Glasses in order to see the patient’s data from the corner of his eye.
Tablets are also among the new tools used in operating rooms. Kept in a waterproof holder, an iPad can give surgeons an extremely accurate view of the area they are operating on using an augmented reality app. The app, developed in Germany by the Frauenhofer Institute in 2012, has already been used on over 6,000 patients.
These new tools reflect the radical changes to operating theatres, which are increasingly connected and equipped with data access facilities, such as IP data flow management platforms, without floor cabling, that can handle multimedia data. Belgian firm Barco, which specialises in visualisation systems, has designed a networked digital operating room, which has been deployed by Maastricht Hospital in the Netherlands (see the Barco presentation video).
Hospital 2.0: Fact & Fiction
A lot of weird and wonderful things have been said about connected hospitals. To dispel some of the myths surrounding the concept of digital hospitals, Deloitte’s Australian branch called upon a dozen experts from the IT and healthcare sectors to draw up a list of the 12 most common misconceptions. Here are some of the highlights:
- Digital hospital is the same thing as paperless hospital.
- Digital hospitals will continue to combine paperless and printed docs.
- Clinicians need access to all available clinical information about a patient.
- Doctors only need the patient data relevant to the procedure in question.
- A digital hospital’s data must be managed by a single data governance function.
- Good data management should rely on a common framework that can manage different types of data.
- Clinicians will only access patient information through a digital hospital’s systems and devices
- Healthcare professionals also want to access patient data via their own devices.
- Mobility is a ‘nice to have’.
-In a hospital, healthcare professionals are by definition mobile. Mobility should therefore be the basis of a digital strategy, and not an optional extra.