Institute of the Future’s Online Hospital Event Begins Today

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David Gorn at California Healthline reports on an interesting 24-hour online event that begins at 12 p.m. (EST)/9 a.m. (PST) today, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, and continues through tomorrow.

A creation of the Institute for the Future (IFTF) and co-sponsored by California Healthline’s publisher, the California Healthcare Foundation, the event is an online game called “Future of the Hospital.”

According to Gorn, “People will compete to present the most cogent and worthwhile ideas for improving hospitals in California and the nation.”

The game’s objective is to create an atmosphere of engagement and conversation where participants can propose “possible solutions for community hospitals.”

Executive producer Jean Hagan told Gorn that this exercise is a way to confront frightening statistics about a system that “is over-burdened, underfunded, and fragmented.”

Hagan said, “Basically [the Institute] has been running games like this for over five years to convene and inspire field experts, academics, policy folks, and everyday citizens to think together and come up with solutions to what we call ‘wicked’ problems. These are problems that seem so overwhelming that people feel powerless. Our hope and mission is to not only come up with plausible alternative solutions, but to inspire real agency in people in roles across all domains of responsibility.”

IFTF’s healthcare research director Rachel Maguire wants people to start looking at the expansive landscape of hospital care. She especially wants people to consider such big-picture, long-term questions as the following:

  • If traditional clinical environments are no longer necessary for many healthcare needs, what else could the hospital be?
  • Could [the hospital] become a place for community wellness rather than just a place we go when we’re really sick?
  • Should hospital relocations and closures be stopped through the legal or political systems?
  • What if minority communities could sue to prevent a hospital closure?
  • What if the drop in operating emergency departments across the country is a positive sign of market forces at work, creating a more efficient healthcare system?
  • What would a digital layer in emergency care services look like?
  • What if we were to build emergency care centers just for seniors, or just for children?

“People working together in creative ways is the only path for real change,” Hagan stated.

Depending on when you’re reading this, there may still be time to register for the competition. Or maybe you just want to check out the game. It can be found here.

Should you participate or should you merely choose to observe the results, we’d be interested in hearing what you think of this exercise. Are these attempts at building dialogue profitable? Did anything worthwhile come out of the competition? If you participated, which proposed ideas struck you as the most valuable and profound?

Finally, what are your thoughts, theories, and ideas about the concepts posed in IFTF’s questions?

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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