In many ways, this year has felt really slow and like a whirlwind at the same time. Have you felt that way? As if twenty years of world events were crammed into six months. The pandemic has been the clear headliner, rattling nations and upending our concept of “normal.”

Sheltering-in-place, wearing masks in public, social distancing – no one could have imagined we’d be here halfway through 2020.

COVID-19 transformed the status quo, especially in the healthcare industry.

I came across a jolting headline that captured this sentiment: Is the hospital of the future here today?

That question really makes you take a step back, doesn’t it?

As the title suggests, Deloitte Insights’ article delves into the future of healthcare – specifically, the characteristics of future hospitals and what companies can do to prepare.

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions aggregated the insights and predictions of various experts from across the globe. Professional backgrounds included healthcare, policy, technology, and customer experience.

Their “hospital of the future” relied on three major themes:

  1. New business models
  2. Fluid data and implementation of advanced technology
  3. Smart spaces that ease and streamline the consumer experience

While I highly recommend reading the full article, here is my interpretation of each theme.

New business models

The underlying assumption for the first theme is the idea that healthcare services will be far more personalized and targeted. Experts predict the overall markets’ hospital bed count will be lower, as hospitals narrow their specialties.

Some hospitals could still focus on trauma, critical care, infectious disease, and specialized services (e.g. surgery or cancer treatment). Others would become “health hubs” that offer urgent care, diagnostic services, and holistic treatments (mental, emotional, spiritual, etc.) in more relaxed settings.

Lastly, care could also be provided via in-home treatment, telemedicine, and advanced remote monitoring. Johns Hopkins is already implementing the “hospital-at-home” model, which has yielded positive results compared to similar hospitalized patients:

  • Cost savings of 19-30%
  • Shorter average length of stay
  • Higher patient/family satisfaction
  • Less stress for caregivers

The “hospital-at-home” model doubles as a hyper-personalized service and cost-effective solution. As you can imagine, the pandemic has accelerated the prevalence of this treatment approach.

Fluid data and implementation of advanced technology

Modern healthcare already embraces technology…but can you imagine that integration twenty years from now?

Healthcare interoperability is already on the horizon. By 2040, experts predict interoperable data and systems to be the norm. The same goes for artificial intelligence and machine learning, which were selected as the most transformative techs for hospitals over the next ten years.

Envision robots that handle basic care (taking vitals, administering medication, etc.). Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality glasses that grant physicians real-time access to patient data during care sessions. The application of today’s cutting-edge technologies could revolutionize the healthcare space.

Smart spaces ease and streamline the consumer experience

Experts predict that future hospitals will enhance their hospitality functions. The atmosphere will feel more like a hotel than a traditional healthcare facility.

What does this look like?

  • Pre-visit virtual diagnosis tools to accelerate the treatment process
  • Smart wearables that track vitals and patient data
  • Smart rooms with customizable ambiances to promote comfort
  • Digitally enhanced waiting areas with cross-functionalities

A lot of this sounds farfetched at first glance. But look how far we’ve come since 2000 and we’re as close to 2040 as are away from Y2K.

 

A “twenty-year plan” may seem outrageous, but I recommend reading the full Deloitte Insights’ article. In the final sections, it poses critical questions to industry leaders that could help shape the future of healthcare.