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What is the Future of the Community Hospital?

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Did you know that one third of all USA hospital emergency rooms have shut down since 1990, while ER visits have increased by 35% during the same period?

The future of the community hospitals is uncertain. The world is changing faster than our health care system can keep up.

Consolidations and partnerships have served as short-term fixes to stave off closures of many community hospitals, but technological, social and economic forces are now chipping away at our hospital-centric medical model.

Tuesday and Wednesday I played a collaborative, online forecasting game that lasted 24 hours and addressed some of these issues. Created and produced by the Institute for the Future, the Future of the Hospitals purpose was to inspire a conversation about a new 21st century role for community hospitals, starting from the ground up—drawing on the insights of experts as well as ordinary people all over the world.

Experts + Ordinary People + Winning Ideas = 21st Century Community Health

IFTF’s Foresight Engine brought together 637 people from around the globe and generated 4,528 ideas for reinventing the hospital. Players from everywhere from San Francisco to Omaha, the United Arab Emirates to New Zealand.

Participants were challenged to respond to some big questions:

  1. How can hospitals become hubs for researching community health?
  2. How can they take advantage of collaborative platforms and crowdsourcing to close the 17 year lag between medical research and new clinical procedures?
  3. How do we take care of patients emotional as well as physical needs?
  4. Could the hospital become a place for community wellness rather than just a place we go when we are really sick?
  5. How can hospitals stay engaged with their patients and collaborate with supermarkets, pharmacies and other organizations?

Contributors expressed their ideas on topics ranging from the big meaning of community wellness to the small details of hospital billing codes, and everything in between.  The image at the top of this post is a word frequency analysis, that showed Community as a continued, prominent theme, as well as data, change, and need.

For more on the Foresight Engine see:

In two weeks the Institute For the Future will facilitate another collaborative experience: Civic Labs: Connected Citizens. Sign up now and join the conversation.