Hospitals Looking Toward the Future

December 22, 2008
Sean Johnson

Last month, The Joint Commission, the nation’s primary standards-setting and accreditation organizations for hospitals, published a report detailing the issues that hospital leaders face today, as well as what issues they might need to plan for in the near future.

Last month, The Joint Commission, the nation’s primary standards-setting and accreditation organizations for hospitals, published a report detailing the issues that hospital leaders face today, as well as what issues they might need to plan for in the near future. The report, entitled “Guiding Principles for the Development of the Hospital of the Future,” set the framework for “designing, equipping, financing and operating a hospital that will not just meet patients' needs in this decade but will have the flexibility to transform as needed, embracing technologies not yet discovered, diseases not yet diagnosed and cures not yet developed." Topics discussed include the economic implications for the hospitals of the future, technology for the provision of care, ways to achieve patient-centered care, and challenges in regards to staffing.

Dr. Michael Schatzlein, CEO of Lutheran Health Network (LHN) and chief operating officer for Dupont Hospital, spoke about how hospitals seem to be borrowing strategies and management philosophies from successful marketing companies. “I have this belief that if you reduce processes, you not only lower costs but you improve care,” he said. For example, LHN has teamed up with Parkview Health (http://www.parkview.com), a medical provider for northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio, and portions of southern Michigan, to put “Lean” teams in place. Lean is a concept borrowed from Toyota in which “steps in a process that add no value to the end product or customer are reduced or deleted."

Additionally, hospitals are tailoring their services to ensure patient-centered care. They understand that patients need to be consulted as partners when it comes to making decisions about their health. Instead of the caregiver determining what’s best and ultimately making decisions about procedures, tests, and so forth, as it was done 10 or 15 years ago, patients now have a much larger influence on their own healthcare decisions. This means that hospitalists and nurses are much more culturally aware and therefore understanding when it comes to family beliefs and personal decisions. It also means being able to use a variety of language services to make sure there are less barriers to communication.

To learn more about the issues covered by The Joint Commission, read the full Guiding Principles for the Development of the Hospital of the Future report on the Commision’s website.