Joint Commission issues health IT recommendations for ‘hospitals of the future’

The Joint Commission has released a report offering guiding principles and actions for the hospital of the future to meet the challenges of older and sicker patients, patient safety and quality of care, economics and the work force.

An expert panel, comprised of hospital executives and clinical leaders, as well as experts in technology, healthcare economics, hospital design and patient safety, analyzed how socio-economic trends, technology, the physical environment of care, patient-centered care values and ongoing staffing challenges will impact the hospital of the future for the commission report.  

The commission said that there is “a growing gap between the have and have-not hospitals…an aging population and a continuing decline in employer-sponsored insurance means that hospitals can expect increases in publicly insured patients and uncompensated care.”

For hospitals to be economically viable in the future, the report said that hospitals, healthcare stakeholders and policymakers must:

  • Align performance and payment systems to meet quality and efficiency goals;
  • Use process improvement tools to increase efficiency and reduce costs;
  • Pursue coverage options to ensure patient access to, and affordability of, healthcare services; and
  • Address how acute hospitals and specialty hospitals can fulfill the social mission for healthcare delivery.

The report said that IT “plays a major role in improving healthcare quality and safety, and can help to support the migration of hospital-based care into the community and even the home.” The technological transformation of healthcare also invites the redefinition of the hospital, according to the report.

To address technology in the hospital of the future, the roundtable suggested to:

  • Make the business case and sustainable funding to support the widespread adoption of health IT;
  • Redesign business and care processes in tandem with health IT adoption;
  • Use digital technology to support patient-centered hospital care and extend that care beyond the hospital walls;
  • Establish reliable authorities to provide technology assessment and technology investment guidance for hospitals; and
  • Adopt technologies that are labor-saving and integrative across the hospital.

“The importance of hospital-based care will not diminish in the future, but hospitals will have to meet the high expectations of the public and all stakeholders in an increasingly challenging environment,” says Mark R. Chassin, MD, president of the commission. “As they have been in the past, hospitals must be equally transformative as the future unfolds. The Joint Commission urges hospitals and public policymakers to use the principles in this report to achieve that aim.”

The report can be downloaded here

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