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.
Author's Note: 5 Futurist Predictions in the World of Health
I'm excited about the futurist predictions for the world of health. I participate in a wellness program offered by my insurance company, so I think those are a great idea. I use some apps already to keep track of my health, and I'm all for making it easier to do so and to discuss my health with my doctor. There are members of my family who could greatly benefit from advances in tissue and organ engineering. And I've experienced many times the frustration of a healthcare system that isn't standardized and digitized, with doctors' offices that don't coordinate with each other well. While some of these predictions are already coming true and may be commonplace in 10 years or fewer, others probably won't be seen until 20 or more years from now. But I think no matter what it's important to be informed, and I'm always interested in the latest innovations in the world of health.
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