The pillars of the hospital of the future:
The era of the all-in-one hospital is coming to an end. Specialization and networking enable synergies; routine therapies are carried out in special care centers. London has focused the number of critical care stroke units to 8 specialized centers, down from 31 units in various hospitals, which helped prevent 97 deaths last year.
Robots support doctors and take over many of their original activities—particularly in the operating room and in routine care. Operations are less invasive, errors due to fatigue are more avoidable, and nursing staff have more time for patients because the robots take over much of the physically demanding work.
Data exchange is one of the cornerstones of future healthcare. The electronic patient record is just one aspect of it. Monitoring devices in one’s own home transmit data to the doctor’s office, which the doctor uses to make adjustments remotely. Sensors in implants simplify diagnoses of patients and of medical products. Artificial intelligence optimizes the process.
The areas of the hospital of the future:
Antibacterial films for all surfaces declare war on germs in hospitals. Thanks to nanotechnologies, germs have a difficult time adhering to the surfaces, metal ions prevent bacterial growth, and sensors report critical threshold limits—whether it be on clothing, furnishings or medical devices.
Robotic systems allow millimeter-precise incisions, an impossibility with the human hand. The surgeon monitors the operation through VR goggles and can enlarge the view of the site of the operation, view it from every angle, and toggle back and forth between 3D views and familiar CT scans.
In the hospital of the future, implants are produced by 3D printers—a perfect fit, fast, resource saving and cost effective. Ceramic or polymer nanoparticles increase the implants’ service life, while added in extra printed layers help them graft onto human tissue.
Touchless controllers and switches are introduced to decrease infections and increase accessibility. Doors, light switches, adjustable beds—all will be operated in the future using ultrasound, infrared or induction. Foot and elbow buttons, heat sensors and sound receptors increase both hygiene and ease of use.
Laundry, food, medications: robots are the quiet servants running in the background of the hospital. Thanks to big data and RFID technologies, they make their rounds all on their own and lessen the strain on hospital logistics. Working with patients’ ID armbands helps them avoid giving incorrect medications or dosages, and ensure that the right meal is always at the right place at the right time.
In the future, labs on a chip—miniature circuits with nutrient-filled environments—enable onsite testing of cell cultures. Networked diagnostic devices additionally help findings to be shared more quickly.
Thermometers, pacemakers, leg splints or contact lenses independently report their data to the nurses’ station. With less need for routine monitoring by staff, the security of care increases, chronically ill patients get more rest and care personnel have more time for personal contact with their patients.