The IFTF Blog
Future of the Hospital: Announcing Challenge #3
For 24 hours, starting January 8 at 9am PST, play the game to help reinvent the community hospital. Pre-register now at futureofhospitals.org.
“17 years” has emerged as a sort of buzzword in healthcare circles in the last decade. In 2000, EA Balas and his colleagues discovered that, despite the growth in clinical research studies, only a fraction (less than a fifth) of the studies’ results get translated into clinical practice, and when they do, it’s a process that takes, on average, 17 years.
This alarming statistic sparked a decade long conversation about how we can close the gap between scientific discovery and care delivery without compromising the quality of patient care. And the outrage goes beyond the prolonged delay in moving information from the bench to the bedside; it’s also the matter of wasting resources. Between 1950 and the early 2000s, an estimated $250 billion has been invested into the National Institute of Health (NIH). While a number of significant improvements to our health, including dramatic extensions in the average lifespan of Americans, can be linked directly to research funded by the NIH, many believe we are leaving a tremendous amount of information in the labs. This failure to translate research into clinical practice reduces the positive impact important findings could have on public health.
Throughout the decade, many things have been blamed for the gap:
- silos separating researchers and clinicians;
- information infrastructure that restricts the easy movement of relevant information;
- the inherently slow pace of medical research.
But as Dr. Claude Lenfant noted in a 2003 article in the New England Journal of Medicine,
“Regardless of the reasons cited for this [gap]—structural, economic, or motivational — the result is the same: we are not reaping the full public health benefits of our investment in research.”
To tackle the identified barriers, new programs such as the NIH’s Bedside-to-Bench Program, have launched to close the gap between scientific discovery and therapeutic interventions. And there are about 20 translational science Ph.D. programs in the United States started as part of an initiative by the National Institutes of Health to accelerate translational research and development.
Hospitals play a promising role in shortening the 17-year gap. Hospitals are the physical workspaces to both researchers and clinicians. In fact, academic hospitals employ a high number of talented people who divide their time between research and clinical practice. They can be leaders in re-engineering how we approach discovery in human medicine. They can work to create an information and knowledge pipeline that supports patient-oriented research and produces and broadcasts findings that directly improve human health.
So, hospital futurists, here’s our third challenge:
Reimagine the hospital as a focal point for closing the gap between scientific discovery and improved health outcomes.
- How can hospitals help mobilize scientific discoveries and turn them into effective treatments?
- How can hospitals help translate emerging medical knowledge into medical practice?
- What role could hospitals play in spurring communication between research scientists and clinical professionals?
Missed the previous game challenges?
- Challenge 1: Construct a 21st Century safety-net system that is fair, economically sustainable and delivers high-quality emergency care services to all in need.
- Challenge 2: Reimagine the hospital as a center for community well-being, not just a place to get treatment for illness.