The digital hospital of the future

In 10 years, technology may change the face of global health care delivery

As the cost of care continues to rise, many hospitals are looking for long-term solutions to minimize inpatient services.

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.

​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 six 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.
  • Consider technology that communicates.
  • Play the long game.
  • Focus on data.
  • Prepare for Talent 2.0.
  • Maintain cybersecurity.

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