The IFTF Blog
Future of the Hospital: Announcing Challenge #2
For 24 hours, starting January 8 at 9am PST, play the Future of the Hospital game to help reinvent the community hospital. Register now at futureofhospitals.org.
For many of us, hospitals are where you go when you are undergoing treatment for a serious health condition, when you are in need of emergency care, or when you are delivering a baby. With the exception of the labor and delivery ward, they are viewed as central institutions in our nation’s “sick care” system.
But what if we could transform the role hospitals play in our communities? What if taking care of people when they get sick became just one competency of hospitals and, instead, they served as mainstays of community wellness?
Already, hospitals touch the lives of many in a community. They are major employers within a city, and people of all socio-economic backgrounds benefit from them. In addition to providing medical care, hospitals often connect people to public and non-profit resources available to them. Hospital staff often help people to access social, financial, and legal services outside the health system.
And these days, many hospitals are even dabbling in wellness initiatives, such as preventative screenings, tobacco cessation programs, and efforts to reverse obesity trends, particularly in children. Some hold nutrition, parenting, and disease education and prevention classes. And hospitals are increasingly active online, posting advice on blogs and encouraging healthy lifestyles through social media. Many newly built or newly renovated facilities feature care settings designed to enhance well-being—natural light, zen gardens, noise-reducing technologies and building materials. And others are operating fitness centers and supporting the development of grocery stores in the hospital’s neighborhoods to improve access to fresh, nutritious food.
However, most people still do not see the hospital as a central resource for creating community well-being. While the initiatives are steps in the right direction, they do not fundamentally transform the role hospitals play in communities. They are still mostly seen as places where you go when you are sick, and places you avoid when you are not.
So, hospital futurists, here’s our second challenge:
Reimagine the hospital as a center for community well-being, not just a place to get treatment for illness.
- How could a hospital better serve the social and health needs of people as a center of community wellness?
- How can urban hospitals leverage their convenient, central physical locations?
- How could we take advantage of the diversity of people who pass through to make the hospital more of a community convener?
- What types of services and experiences would you expect to see at the reinvented hospital?