Why the Hospital of the Future Might Not Be a Hospital at All

MAY 28

Over the last forty years, there has been a significant shift in where care is delivered. Primarily driven by regulatory change and reimbursement opportunity, alternatives to hospital-based acute care services have emerged with a consistent decrease in inpatient admissions and a continued increase in outpatient services. Between 1991 and 2011 alone, there was a 9% decrease in inpatient admissions and a concomitant 6.2 percent increase in outpatient surgeries.

With the nation’s 5,723 registered hospitals being at the center of this painful, messy, yet necessary disruption of the healthcare industry, our Health Executive Roundtable has spent the last several months addressing the question about what the hospital of the future looks like – the results of which will culminate in new research to be published in the coming weeks.

Our take is that it is more than ubiquitous technology, expanded robotic systems and architectural innovation. In fact our findings hint that the hospital of the future may not be a hospital at all, and considers a historical view of three key dynamics that fueled the shift of acute inpatient care to outpatient settings and sets the stage for understanding further evolutions in the coming decade.

  • The ever-changing regulatory and reimbursement environment.
  • The emergence of alternate care sites.
  • The expectation of convenience and satisfaction in healthcare.

There is a new mindset among hospital executives as they build new or expanded facilities. Not only are construction projects skewed toward facilities for outpatient services and ambulatory surgery, there is an evolution toward hospitals without beds which will enable the transition from volume- to value-based reimbursement.  In addition, there is clearly a convergence between hospitality and healthcare which is opening new markets for a wide array of service industries including hotels, transportation, airlines, food service, and tourism. Finally, the critical success factor for surviving and thriving in this environment are leadership and the financial wherewithal to establish the strategy, infrastructure, and culture that redefines a hospitals’ role in the continuum of care.

High quality healthcare is frequently described as delivering the right care to the right person at the right time in the right place.  Our report will detail some new thinking on the right place, the transformation of healthcare real estate and the characteristics of the hospital of the future.

Let us know what you think, and if you’re interested in receiving a copy of the finished report.

Archelle Georgiou, MD
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