Imagine what a hospital will look like in about twenty years? Digitalizing hospitals is the hot but tricky topic dHealth Lab is dealing with. They even spread the rumour that in a few years, most hospitals are a thing of the past and digital devices will turn a patient’s living room into a hospital at home. At the Let’s Gro Festival nurses, doctors, entrepreneurs, computer professionals and healthcare consumers got together and talked about the future of hospital care at home.
The host of the meetup is dHealth Lab, an initiative by UMCG, University of Groningen, Hanze University and tech-companies Wildsea and Reconcept. On the one hand dHealth Lab functions as a bridge between medical professionals, IT-experts and patients. On the other hand it’s an environment where high-tech medical innovations and products can be tested and created in order to make healthcare both future-proof and affordable. “We probably all know these portable heart rate sensors. The next step is to create a gadget that anticipates to the heart rate”, says Bart Scheerder (dHealth Lab).
Hospital at home
One of the many projects dHealth Lab is currently working on is called ‘Hospital at Home’. An initiative that helps hospitalised older people who suffer from dementia by providing innovative and efficient hospital care at home. That way, patients are able to go home sooner. “Right now, there are only a few successful implementations of home medical treatments that are usually provided in a hospital. It’s the poor result of many complex rules health entrepreneurs have to deal with”, Scheerder explains.
Hospitals of the future
The next guest speaker is medical researcher and internist student Maaike Pauw (UMCG). She thinks hospitals at home are absolutely viable and in the future, healthcare will be a hundred percent digital. “It may sound futuristic, but in fact it’s what we’ve been doing for ages. I mean: there were no hospitals before 1900. So yes, I think it’s possible but even more important is that I think it’s really necessary.” Test results show that elderly people have a bigger chance of being confused when they are in the hospital for a long period. Most patients in hospitals would rather go home, whether they’re old or young. “In many countries they already work with hospitals at home but it’s not easy to deliver it in the Netherlands”, Maaike continues, “I’m sure there are some good reasons for it, otherwise we would’ve done it already. But I do see a lot of healthcare workers that want to keep their patients close.” Maaike is working on an experiment where a doctor or nurse visits their patients at home. Hopefully it leads to less complications and a stable home situation for the same price you would pay in a hospital. Or even less.
Like a pizza delivery service, healthcare will be delivered at your front door in a few years. It is still in its infancy but initiatives like dHealth Lab and researchers like Maaike show progressive shift in the provision of health care from hospital to the home.