If you've ever been admitted to a hospital, you know that for all of our automation, there's still a lot of actual paperwork involved. You may also see lots of different healthcare providers during your stay, and sometimes they may give you conflicting information or not keep appointments. This is just one of the many aspects of a system that is inefficient and ultimately costs you more. Futurist Jack Ulrich predicts that hospitals will become more accountable and efficient by providing coordinated, standardized care.
Some of this has to do with technology. Healthcare providers need to get on board with digitizing everything from patient records to MRIs and electronically tracking things like pharmacy inventory and even people (in the case of, say, an Alzheimer's patient who tends to wander) . Digitization will also let hospitals easily monitor things like outbreaks of illnesses. Providing more efficient care also has to do with working together -- the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), for example, gives hospitals incentives to form accountable care organizations. These are networks that include doctors, hospitals and clinics that share accountability for the patients' care.
Joe Flower, another healthcare futurist, believes that hospitals will also improve by adopting management tools used in successful businesses, like Six Sigma or the Toyota Production System (yes, the car manufacturer). Some hospitals are already employing this model and report that they're better able to care for a larger number of patients, without the need for more staff or larger facilities.