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The Hospital of the Future is Not a Hospital

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, May 30, 2014

Pursuing expensive inpatient volume in the traditional sense is a strategic dead end. Any new construction undertaken by hospitals and health systems should be based on adaptability, patient flow, and efficiency gains—not bed count.

I've spent a good deal of time the past several weeks interviewing senior healthcare leaders for my story in the May issue of HealthLeaders magazine about the hospital of the future. But in truth, that headline might be a bit of a tease.

As it turns out, the hospital of the future doesn't look much like a hospital at all. Instead, it's a cohesive amalgamation of plenty of outpatient modalities that represent growth in healthcare. Inpatient care, increasingly, represents stagnation and shrinkage, in the business sense.

In the past, a story about the hospital of the future has meant investigating healthcare organizations' access to capital, and their ability to fund expensive new patient bed towers with all-private rooms and top technologies, in a race to grab volume from competitors.


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Under that operating scenario, the sky was the limit, in terms of what organizations were willing to do to attract volume.

That calculus has changed drastically.

In a recent survey on healthcare design trends conducted by Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction, 95% of the healthcare organizations surveyed said most of the projects they are undertaking are predominantly ambulatory in nature.

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