How do you start when the goal is to design the hospital of the future? When I was writing this chapter for my new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine, I contacted talented architects, as well as organizations such as NXT Health focusing on this sensitive topic and shared my own views as well.
Here are a few things from the top of my mind as excerpts from the book:
- No waiting time will harden the lives of patients as cognitive computers will organize all the details of the healthcare system. It will direct people when and where to go by analyzing their records, and automatically responding to doctors’ notes and prescriptions.
- Extrapolating from today’s trends, it is clear sophisticated surgical robots will rule the scenes of operating rooms (ORs), although not all ORs will include surgical robots as there will still be operations that could not be performed using only robots.
- Devices and equipment of radiology, surgery and many other specialties from CT scans to endoscopic technologies will be so small they would all fit in the OR.
- Cameras will record every movement in the OR as robots will be controlled from a different, sometimes distant locations. Examples are already available, e.g. in the Radboud Medical Centre.
- Using radiology images such as CT or MRI scans ot patients, surgeons will be able to look into the body and even organs of patients before the operation for better surgical planning and during the operation for more precise movements. Augmented reality in action.
- It will only include materials that cannot be infected; flexible touchscreens featuring important health data will be around the bed which will be controlled by the patient.
- The walls might include virtual reality to make sure the patient feels literally at home by showing them images and pictures from their home which they can upload to the system while lying in a hospital bed.
- Waiting rooms will feature charging sets for wearable devices where data could also be exported before the visit.
Here is how NXT Health thinks about the future of patient rooms:
A canopy above the bed houses electrical, technical, and gas components, even a noise–blocking system. A Halo light box can be programmed for mood and light therapy, and also serving as screen to display clouds or the sky. The head panel contains equipment that can measure almost any health parameter unobtrusively while continually logging results. The footwall features a screen for entertainment, video consultations, and accessing whatever information the patient needs. Floors are made of low–porosity rubber that does not need chemical sealers and does not trap bacteria and other substances. In case of a fall it reduces impact.
To reduce potential infections all surfaces are made of solid materials that are often used in kitchen countertops. A light at the entrance reminds staff to wash their hands before entering the room. Information and data can be added to patient records here as well as at a control panel.
Although not all advantages will be the consequences of ever improving technologies but a different kind of training for the staff:
The Walnut Hill Medical Center in Dallas has been referred to as the Apple experience hospital due to its design and innovative nature. Potential employees must take a psychological exam, and the application process is exceptionally tough. Patient greeting begin in the parking lot with complementary valet service. Inside, the staff follows the Ritz Carlton “15–5” rule meaning that a hospital employee must smile at the patient from 15 feet and greet them with a warm hello at 5 feet. All employees are trained to communicate properly with patients and their families. Patient rooms feature large windows that provide natural light and pleasuring views.
Read more about the hospital of the future and what examplary hospitals operate today in The Guide to the Future of Medicine.
And as a bonus, here is how people in the 1950s saw the future of hospitals: