Five use cases for the digital hospital of the future
The future of health care delivery may look quite different than the hospital of today. Rapidly evolving technologies, along with demographic and economic changes, are expected to alter hospitals worldwide. A growing number of inpatient health care services are already being pushed to home and outpatient ambulatory facilities. However, many complex and very ill patients will continue to need acute inpatient services.
With aging infrastructure in some countries and increased demand for more beds in others, hospital executives and governments should consider rethinking how to optimize inpatient and outpatient settings and integrate digital technologies into traditional hospital services to truly create a health system without walls.
To learn what this future of health care delivery may look like, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions conducted a crowdsourcing simulation with 33 experts from across the globe. Participants included health care CXOs, physician and nurse leaders, public policy leaders, technologists, and futurists. Their charge was to come up with specific use cases for the design of digital hospitals globally in 10 years (a period that can offer hospital leaders and boards time to prepare).
The crowdsourcing simulation developed use cases in five categories:
- Redefined care delivery
Emerging features including centralized digital centers to enable decision making (think: air traffic control for hospitals), continuous clinical monitoring, targeted treatments (such as 3D printing for surgeries), and the use of smaller, portable devices will help characterize acute-care hospitals.
- Digital patient experience
Digital and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can help enable on-demand interaction and seamless processes to improve patient experience.
- Enhanced talent development
Robotic process automation (RPA) and AI can allow caregivers to spend more time providing care and less time documenting it.
- Operational efficiencies through technology
Digital supply chains, automation, robotics, and next-generation interoperability can drive operations management and back-office efficiencies.
- Healing and well-being designs
The well-being of patients and staff members—with an emphasis on the importance of environment and experience in healing—will likely be important in future hospital designs.
Many of these use-case concepts are already in play. And hospital executives should be planning how to integrate technology into newly-built facilities and retrofit it into older ones.
Technology will likely underlie most aspects of future hospital care. But care delivery—especially for complex patients and procedures—may still require hands-on human expertise.
Laying the foundation for the digital hospital of the future
Building a digital hospital of the future can require investments in people, technology, processes, and premises. Most of these investments will likely be upfront. In the short term, hospital leadership may not see immediate returns on these investments. In the longer term, however—as digital technologies improve care delivery, create operational efficiencies, and enhance patient and staff experience—the return result can be in higher quality care, improved operational efficiencies, and increased patient satisfaction.
These core elements of an enterprise digital strategy can help you get started as you begin to push your hospital into the future:
- Create a culture for digital transformation
It is essential that senior management understands the importance of a digital future and drives support for its implementation at all organizational levels.
- Consider technology that communicates
Digital implementation is complex. Connecting disparate applications, devices, and technologies—all highly interdependent—and making certain they talk to each other can be critical to a successful digital implementation.
- Play the long game
Since digital technologies are ever evolving, flexibility and scalability during implementation can be critical. The planning team should confirm that project scope includes adding, modifying, or replacing technology at lower costs.
- Focus on data
While the requirements of data interoperability, scalability, productivity, and flexibility are important, they should be built upon a solid foundation of capturing, storing, securing, and analyzing data.
- Prepare for Talent 2.0
As hospitals invest in exponential technologies, they should provide employees ample opportunities to develop corresponding digital strategies.