Renowned Futurist Ian Morrison, PhD, opened the plenary session "Hospital and Care Systems of the Future" on Monday, March 5, of the 2012 ASHE PDC Summit in Phoenix, Arizona, with a confession. "The dirty little secret of Futurism is that we cannot actually predict the future," he confided.

That fact didn't stop Morrison and a panel of experts from prognosticating anyway, as they examined and discussed the new American Hospital Association (AHA) report "Hospital and Care Systems of the Future" which establishes the top 10 must-do strategies for hospitals and healthcare systems to implement now to ensure success in the future. Maulik Joshi, Senior Vice President of Research at the AHA, mentioned that four of those top 10 were head and shoulders above the rest of the list according to those polled for the AHA report: Alignment of clinicians and hospitals, focus on quality and patient safety, promote efficeiency through productivity and financial management, and the integration of information systems. Joshi also highlighted the importance of establishing metrics to properly measure how effectively these measures are implemented.

Panelist Raymond Hino, CEO, Mendocino Coast District Hospital, for his part, predicted that in the future, there will definitely be winners and losers, with the losers being those who do not embrace change. Morrison also pointed out that whether Obamacare sticks or does not, "the train has already left the station. We are moving to something else." Panelist William Petasnick, President and CEO of Froedtert Health, Inc., similarly pointed out that regardless of the ultimate fate of Obamacare, the challenges of cost will remain, noting that he has yet to hear any government leaders stand up and say to healthcare providers "We want to give you more money." Petasnick pointed out that there is too much variation in the U.S. healthcare system, and that despite recent efforts to "lean" the processes, we need more. He also called for better, more timely use of spaces, taking tips from retail to increase efficiencies.  

The panel ultimately didn't give a clear picture of what the hospital of the future will look like, but rather focused on strategies to implement that would ensure success on an operational level, and therefore to make healthcare better, faster, and cheaper. According to Morrison, those ahead of the curve have already figured out that healthcare must move in that direction, and are taking steps to implement these practices via the redesign of delivery systems.