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Major Hospital Reforms - A Must for Future Preparedness
By Themedica on December 1, 2008 10:07 AM |
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Recently, a report released by the the Joint Commission reviewed the present state of hospitals and subsequently provided guidelines on principles and actions for hospitals to subscribe to, so as to enable them in meeting the challenges put forth by the dynamics of the changing patient needs. A Hospital Corridor

Over the past couple of years the medical industry has witnessed an increase in the number of older and sicker patients, expectations vis-a-vis patient safety and quality of patient care has grown big, in addition, the economics and the work force policies have assumed greater significance in the wake of the worldwide economic slowdown.

The report titled “Health Care at the Crossroads: Guiding Principles for the Development of the Hospital of the Future,” which can be found at the Joint Commission Website, identifies 5 key areas that hospitals need to work on.

The Economic Feasibility

This is a crucial consideration because, while some hospital are quite profitable, other aren't. Hence hospitals can benefit by

  • Linking performance and payment systems so as to ensure quality and efficiency of service rendered.
  • Process improvement tools can be adopted to curtail costs and improve efficiency.
  • Improvements in patient access and affordability of healthcare services  may be augmented using patient coverage.
  • The role of general acute hospitals including specialty hospitals need to be assessed to improve healthcare delivery .
Infusion of Technology 

Judicious application of information technology can be effective in improving healthcare quality and safety.
  • Options for sustainable funding supporting generous adoption of health information technology  need to be explored.
  • Review and revision of business as well as care processes to align them with healthcare IT is needed.
  • Adoption of information technology may be used to support patient-oriented hospital care. In addition, they need to seek reliable technology assessment and technology investment guidance for the facility.

Provide Patient-Oriented Healthcare

The prime stakeholders of healthcare services of hospitals are the patients. As long as patients believe in healthcare provided by hospitals and are happy, they wouldn't need to switch.

  • Prioritize adoption of patient-centered care values.
  • Include patient-centered care principles in to the practices of hospital oversight bodies and promote transparency.
  • Attend to literacy and personal and cultural preferences  of patients, in addition to other obstacles barriers to patient and family engagement.
  • Remove disparities in the healthcare quality between minorities, aged, poor, etc.
Workforce Policies

Deficient supply of healthcare staff shortages is a stark reality. But this needs to be addressed for ensuring preparedness for the future.

  • Implement fair equitable migration and compensation policies for nations confronting healthcare staff workers.
  • Increase healthcare professional education capacity to meet the demand. Include development of professional knowledge for a sophisticated healthcare environment.
  • Attractive workplace cultures can help retain healthcare workers .
  • Encourage team-based care  and develop skills to care for geriatric patients.
Enhanced Hospital Design

This is an important consideration because hospital design has been found to directly affect patient safety and hence make or mar healthcare outcomes.

  • Incorporate evidence-based design principles viz. single rooms, noise-reducing materials , for patient safety.
  • Use environment friendly or “green” principles in design and construction.
  • The hospital must include high priority areas such as infection control, emergency preparedness, etc, as an important consideration in hospital design and construction
  • Evaluate and include views and suggestions from other stakeholders including staff, patients and families in the design process.
Given the fast pace of growth in technology in hospital equipment & supplies incorporating flexibility in the design becomes a necessity so as to accommodate advances in medicine.

The insightful report has indeed highlighted the areas which are crucial to the sustainability of hospitals of the future, and naturally, sooner they are implemented the better it should be.


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