Growth Prospect: Fun Hospitals

Posted on August 11, 2010

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Historically, hospitals have been stigmatized more as places where people go to die, than places where people go to recover. Public image is hard to shake. If healthcare becomes as transparent as it needs to be to be affordable, care providers will need to actually fight for patients. As an administrator, my hospital’s image would be one of the first things to get an overhaul.

What would I want my facility to be known for? Why come to be treated at my wellness center? Because it would actually be fun. Yes hospitals can, and should, be fun sometime in the future.

“Fun” is not very specific, so let us investigate. First, hospitals should be known as places people go to get well. In our controlled-cost future healthcare system, prevention will have to be a large part of that system’s model for solvency. Lifestyle illnesses simply cost too much in care for insurers. How is prevention achieved? By doing activities that combat poor health:  activity, eating well, learning how to best treat your body. Loosely translated: exercise, food, education—because we know our kids are not learning it in our chronically overmatched public schools.

Yes, there are undercurrents explaining hospitals will trend toward de-centralization in the future because of land-locked campuses, too valuable real estate and focus on core treatment activities. But an aspect of what does remain with the mother ship must be enjoyable.

Hospitals can be the future community bastions of our proactive and shrewdly consumer-driven healthcare society. They do not have to stick their heads in the sand until the apocalypse of healthcare reform is over to see if they still have any feathers left. They can work on their image by focusing on exercise, food and education.

In the future, hospitals will be fun. They will serve unabashedly tasty food in pleasant cafeterias that will be parsed so people can learn to eat healthy during their dining experience. Whereas restaurants will never fully convert to serving the unadulterated (chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, genetically-modified, etc.) food people need, hospitals can educate their visitors and patients in food pyramid, portion and nutrition basics. Along with retaurant-quality food, they will offer retail items that fit with the needs of its residents and visitors (where doctors can, by appointment, provide purchase suggestions), like exercise equipment, ergonomic helpers, therapy and self-diagnostic devices, and other items of the empowered, health-conscious public.

In the future, hospitals will be fun. They will offer the rich cultural interaction missing in other parts of weekly work and play. They will provide religious services (many already have chapels), support group meetings, discussion panels, and recreational activities with a cultural sensitivity. The community and patients, when appropriate, can meet at the hospital to play board games (it is so hard to find partners in your neighborhood), chess and cards—no bingo here—the kind of games that keep people mentally sharp.

In the future, hospitals will be fun. Hospitals will be destinations as community learning centers. Classes will teach people to learn to be well. How-to’s will assist everyone in doing things the right way to avoid health issues later in life:  how to exercise with proper form, how to cook healthily, how to understand your body and how to navigate the latest pandemic. There may be books or literature available, maybe a lending library or place to do quick internet research.

In the future, hospitals will be fun. Unlike the solitary, strip mall, circuit-training outlets we call gyms, hospitals will have places to play team sports or those that require a partner. Much like a YMCA, hospitals will offer a few courts and rooms for low-impact, aerobic activity like dance and even the Wii. They will likely have a pool for both rehabilitation assignments and recreation.

In the future, hospitals will need to be fun to survive the transition to a consumer service. Reluctance and suspicion are enormous barriers to purchase and hospitals will need to combat over 100 years of trepidation on the part of patients and visitors alike to win customers over and gain the economic support to survive.

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Posted in: Growth Prospect