Hospitals have come a long way in 50 years. There are now male nurses and female doctors, whilst computers are now everywhere and security and health and safety features are omnipresent. Things are thought to be dramatically different in another 50 years time – hospitals are under more demand than they’ve ever been and there’s becoming a greater desire to reduce the stress for both staff and patients. Here are just a few of the big changes that hospitals may undergo in the future.
Automation and self-care
Tasks in hospitals are already being automated, but we could see more tasks being left to robots from automated patient observations to entire surgeries. To further help lower the demand for medical staff, there may also be a move towards encouraging self-care, with machines that patients to carry out some of their own diagnostics and observations. There are even talks of encouraging wearable tech (or even chipping patients) so that machines can monitor us and detect health issues before even we do.
Biophilia is the belief that a greater connection with nature can be beneficial on human’s wellbeing. Hospitals have become very artificial and clinical and there could be a change to a more natural look that involves more plants, more natural light and more earthy colour schemes. Already medical design companies like Levitch have been bringing in plant-based designs in order to reinforce this sense of natural calm. Blank white walls will no longer be the norm.
No more corridors
There’s also likely to be a shift to a more open-plan hub-and-spoke layout. Corridors can create congestion and put the focus on patients coming to doctors, whilst hospitals of the future may be more free-flowing and put the focus of doctors coming to patients. Rooms may become more multi-purpose and there could be a greater emphasis on department collaboration. The likes of Buxton are already pushing for this hub-and-spoke model.
More specialist clinics
There may also be a move from less general hospitals to more specialist hospitals. Clinics dedicated to accident and emergency care could be more common, whilst other hospitals may be dedicated to less urgent care. This could allow individual hospitals better control over their design and resources.
The likes of EIT Health also suggest the possibility of ‘living lab’ hospitals. Currently, medical research and experimentation is carried out in separate research clinics, however hospitals of the future may take on more of this experimental work as a way to save costs and produce more tangible results. Most patients seem keen to get involved in such experiments and it could help to determine the effects of such research on real patients.