From Hospitals to Home-spitals

This article for the World Economic Forum was written by Melanie Walker MD, the co-chair of the Neurotechnology & Brain Science Future Council and Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology & Neurological Surgery at the University of Washington and an adjunct at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In it, she reflects on the developments in her 20 years of medical practice and projects the future of medicine in 2030.

Dr. Walker, and many medical futurists believe that by 2030, “the very nature of disease will be further disrupted by technology. So disrupted, in fact, that we might have…fewer diseases to manage. The fourth industrial revolution will ensure that humans live longer and healthier lives, so that the hospitals of the future will become more like NASCAR pit-stops than inescapable black holes. You will go to a hospital to be patched up and put back on track. Some hospital practices might even go away completely, and the need for hospitalization will eventually disappear. Not by 2030, but soon after.”

Referring to a number of the trends we included in our previous 2030 Trend Card emails, she contends that “the days of patients dying while they wait for an organ donor will soon be over. Organs, tissues and supporting structures like bones or ligaments will be biologically 3D-printed on demand. Rates of traumatic injury are falling and will continue to decline as we introduce driverless cars and robot workers for risky tasks. And really: 80 is the new 60, with all of the regenerative options on the horizon.”

Rather than getting your medicine from a pharmacy, your mobile device will receive the necessary information to print a menu of custom pharmaceuticals and probiotics on demand from your own living room or kitchen. All of this will happen within minutes. So, given these changes, do you agree that the hospital of today may be replaced by the home-spital of tomorrow?