“The hospital of the future may not be one we recognise today. It will be connected, integrated and patient-centred – some may not even have walls”, Deloitte Partner Luke Baxby said ahead of his speech at the National Hospital Infrastructure Summit.
The change will largely be driven by advances in medical and information technology enabling new and innovative models of care.
“The future of healthcare technology will embrace fully integrated data across a network of devices, platforms and apps. Patient and consumer sensors will be part of everyday health regimes where remote monitoring and local management have released healthcare centres of excellence to focus on specialist aspects, such as precision medicine, bioengineering, proton beam therapy and advanced biologics”.
Against this is the community’s expectation for healthcare to be delivered differently, in line with other sectors.
“Banking, Transport, Media and Telecommunications are undergoing major, data-led, digital transformations – bending over backwards to deliver a personalised service –and ensuring their customers have the best possible experience”, Luke added.
“Soon, younger generations will find it unacceptable that they can have a pizza delivered to their door at 11pm, but have to travel out of town for a routine medical appointment, find and pay for an expensive parking space in an overcrowded hospital car park – all of this during their working day”.
“Moreover, given the level of demand our growing, ageing population will create in the future, this approach to service delivery is unsustainable”.
Luke believes there is an opportunity for health infrastructure to be an enabler of healthcare transformation, to help meet the needs of the community, reduce fiscal pressure and deliver care in ways which improve both staff and patient experience. But in order for that to happen, the sector will need to abandon traditional approaches to planning and design.
“Historically, to accommodate additional demand, health infrastructure planning solutions have focussed on simply redeveloping existing healthcare infrastructure or building new facilities. This approach – even at the current rate – will mean the number of hospital beds required to accommodate future demand will be extremely costly”, he said.
Deloitte Director, Andy Lane, is also due to address the Summit and added, “We can no longer afford and, more importantly, it wouldn’t be right to continue to plan and deliver more acute beds to meet demand. It bakes the system into old ways of working and constrains opportunities for reform”.
“Even if affordability challenges around capacity can be met, this would pave a path to the wrong future state – one with ill-configured systems that fail to support the changing nature of healthcare. The answer is not to build more beds – it is to enable a better future healthcare system”.
Both representatives believe the most effective solutions are ones in which infrastructure supports the move to contemporary and technology-enabled models of care, rather than the traditional approach of simply perpetuating old ways of working.
“Future Infrastructure will need to look and feel different; it will need to be agile; command centres will be common; the worker will need to operate differently; and technology will need to enable information to flow more freely across the system”, said Luke.
Both acknowledge that the combination of risk and the huge amount of public pressure for a positive outcome with any type of healthcare infrastructure project pose significant challenges to moving to a new approach. But neither believes that this should stop the sector from pursuing the very significant opportunity. The right response: a greater upfront focus on developing new models of care and designing smart agile infrastructure.
“It is the decisions of healthcare executives today that will reform and empower the Australian healthcare sector over the next ten years and beyond. Whilst increasing the dependency of success on changing models of care, changing ways of working and enhancing focus on consumerism increases the risk it should not be a reason not to take advantage of the current opportunity to rethink the way we can deliver healthcare”, said Luke.
Luke Baxby and Andy Lane will co-present at the National Hospital Infrastructure Summit –3-4 December 2018, Sydney discussing how hospital infrastructure can act as an enabler, rather than a constrainer, of healthcare transformation.