Hospitals as we know them today actually evolved from what was euphemistically called ‘almshouses’, a charity place where the destitute, orphans and criminally-inclined individuals are treated of their illnesses. As such these places were undesirable medical venues for ‘respectable’ people who logically wanted better places for their medical needs. Thus the Pennsylvania Hospital was established, cofounded by Benjamin Franklin, in 1752.
Like all establishments the concept of hospitals change over time, and will continue to do so as society’s needs likewise shift with time. Studies have been made about how the hospital of the future may look like in both the physical and health care aspects. Some of the findings or recommendations include:
More technologically advanced, healing-oriented buildings. The future hospital may have self-healing walls that automatically close up dents, scratches and abrasions to make the building perpetually clean-looking and neat. Poured floors would have no cracks and seams where micro-organisms can thrive, and could be remanufactured as new when worn old. The wall’s paint may be changed according to the patient’s preference at the touch of a button and made of sound-deadening materials.
Rooms may accommodate only one patient each to minimize cross-patient infection and promote better decontamination control, and sinks with alcohol gel may be ubiquitous to encourage the medical personnel, patients and visitors to wash their hands as they move inside the hospital. Smaller visitor lounges, more indoor plants, no ‘Admitting’ desks (all info will be procured during hospital stay), and flexibility-oriented facilities may be incorporated into the building designs.
Over-all, future hospitals will scrimp on ‘display’ spaces such as ornate lobbies and concentrate resources more on wellness-oriented components like green atriums and meditation spaces. Also, non-medical systems like laundry chutes and materials disposal will be beyond the view of patients and visitors.
Patients will receive after preliminary examination and interview a schedule of events centered on what they need rather than the availability of medical personnel (like doctors, nurses and staff). The staffing pattern will change from predominantly nursing care to a more technical-oriented support one, so that such nurses that may be there will need to have more technical knowhow than ever.
Electronic medical recording will be the norm of the future, and such records will be accessible to the new physicians should the patient change location or practitioners. In-hospital communication will be personally directed to the intended professional so that no public-address systems will intrude into the facility’s tranquility. Likewise, hospitals will be able to monitor their patients at home via modern communication systems. In-patient stay will be discouraged and home treatment will be promoted as a matter of professional and industry practice.
Non-invasive treatments will be promoted, with greater reliance on robotic surgery, for instance, to reduce errors due to the human factor. Computers will play very vital roles in patient care, ranging from smart cards that indicate the medical regimen, to more sophisticated ailment diagnostic systems. The future hospital will rely more and more on technology to deliver medical and wellness services.
In all of these projected developments in the hospital of the future, the underlying shift of concept will be from almost purely medical treatment to remedy the illnesses as practiced today, to the promotion of wellness mainly through ailment prevention.
This was a guest post by Nikki from The OT Practice, Independant occupational therapists in London and nationwide.