I have to admit, there is a sense of loathing I have about my hospital visits. Of the few times that I’ve needed to go to the hospital for myself, I’ve found it a bit distressing.  

I mean, they take your clothes, you give up your personal belongings, you get an ID tag slapped on your wrist. And, as for sleep, good luck!

Not withstanding those inconveniences, my experiences with nurses and the physician staff were positive, and the facilities were clean and assuring. I was grateful for being there because I needed expert care.

But where is the expert care now? And how will consumers access health expertise tomorrow? 

Today’s expertise lies not in the hospital facilities per se, but in the collective knowledge of the institution that is now shared on the Web. I can BE the expert, because I’m empowered with information to make choices that I can act on.

Want to order a book; buy a movie; research a paper; look up treatment for strep throat? It’s there, and I can access it.

OK, maybe this only makes me an expert Googler. But with so much changing in the info-rich world that we live in, my expectations about the future, and how I purchase services, has changed—especially about healthcare.

I want a new relationship with my care provider. I am today’s savvy consumer with high expectations for services. 

I am engaged. I research before buying. I compare prices. I connect online. I look forward to email messages and texts. I want to self-diagnosis first and round with my interdisciplinary team by video conference.

Is this possible? It’s already here. 

According to a 2009 American Journal of Nursing paper, Cedars Sinai Hospital tested video rounding with patients, families, and physicians, reporting a reduction in patients' average length of stay and improved patient satisfaction.

In my perfect hospital-less world, I  want a healthcare provider to empower me to take responsibility.

Banner Health in Arizona and other similar providers promote this kind of change with personal message campaigns imploring us to eat broccoli, take up yoga, and de-stress—in short, to take responsibility for our own health.

Health providers that give customers tools (information) to help us make smarter choices is good for business. And this transfer of knowledge that informs and empowers consumers is the new business model for healthcare.

Is the hospital going away? Hardly.

But the way we communicate with care providers, seek services, evaluate options, and eventually seek treatment is reshaping the hospital as we know it.

The old saying about an apple a day keeps the doctor away … well, in this case, that Apple is my computer.