03/04/2013 12:40 pm ET Updated May 04, 2013

Envisioning Tomorrow's Hospital

Imagine running a hospital from a tablet computer. It's not only a possibility but also a near reality, because the latest mobile technology and data integration are about to make hospitals more connected and efficient than ever before. Tomorrow's hospital will use the new technology to drive seven health care trends -- and enable real-time collaboration between clinicians and patients to improve outcomes while lowering costs.

Trend: High Tech, High Touch
Tomorrow's hospital will treat complex problems with high-tech procedures that integrate multiple tools and techniques. This will promote a patient-oriented, service line approach that will reduce "competition" between clinical disciplines. With "hybrid" interventional cardiac procedures, the technology will enable cardiac surgeons and interventional cardiologists to collaborate when performing complex interventional cardiac procedures such as cardiac valve repairs or coronary artery bypass grafting. At the same time, tomorrow's hospital will become truly high-touch, with facilities, food and spa-like amenities comparable to a five-star hotel. It will be a comfortable, clean, well-lighted place where patients and their families will feel safe and cared for in a welcoming environment they prefer.

Trend: Home Sweet Home Care
Home is where everyone wants to be. And thanks to rapidly-advancing telehealth capabilities, patients admitted to tomorrow's hospital will recuperate at home, receiving post-procedure and follow-up care provided through interactive tele-health portals, home health workers, intermediate care providers and their own families. It will be personal care that may be even higher quality than what they could have received in the hospital.

Trend: Faster, Smarter, Stronger
Tomorrow's hospital will focus on "minimal." Minimal radiation exposure for imaging, minimally-invasive procedures that precisely target and correct medical problems, short hospital stays with minimal complications. By using miniaturized ultrasound technology combined with "smart" software, pediatric surgeons will be able to perform procedures on neonates with minimal morbidity and a precision adapted for the individual baby. Hospitals will dazzle with big machines and bold moves, resulting in a dramatically higher quality of care that consumers will be able to benchmark continuously against peer institutions -- and make their care choices accordingly.

Trend: We're All Distributed
Most of the people connected to tomorrow's hospital won't actually be in the hospital. Much like an online retailer, it will operate as a virtual hub with a lot less "bricks and mortar." Distributed surgi-centers, chest pain centers, urgent-care centers, rehabilitation centers and home health care operations will share scheduling information, clinical data, physician recommendations and patient material via highly secure Internet connections.

Trend: Seeing Is Believing
Using these secure connections, tomorrow's hospital will share more information than ever before. Interactive portals will integrate information from multiple data streams to present comprehensive views of diagnoses and therapies at the nano-biological level. Collaborative imaging will offer multiple points of view to assist clinicians in interpreting biophysiological information. Imaging "dashboards" displaying all-inclusive data will frame clinical recommendations for individual treatment plans while empowering patients and families to become more engaged in making medical decisions.

Trend: We're All Connected
I mean everyone -- patients and family members, doctors and nurses, payers and insurers. In tomorrow's hospital, patients will update the medical and personal aspects of their health records via mobile devices right at the bedside. Interactive patient information portals will bring loved ones and medical staff into a secure, virtual space 24/7, so fully-shared information and joint decision making will become a reality.

Trend: Back to the Future
Remember when all hospitals were institutions operated for the public good and not overwhelmed by insurance or financial performance issues? When they were drivers of dramatic medical advances and stewards of public health initiatives that changed society? Tomorrow's hospital will again be the place that addresses the big questions about global health and wellness. They will reemerge as a force for civic good, championing high-quality medical care for people from all cultures, geographies and socioeconomic circumstances. Like the Adventist Health Systems of yesterday and today, hospitals will resurface as the shining lights of public responsibility and charitable mission.

It's a great future, right?

And the keys lay with hospitals that focus on big machines and bold moves, secure mobile technology, comprehensively share data, empower patients and renew commitments as stewards of beneficence to create the future of health care worldwide.

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