On the recommendation of a board member, I recently read “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.” Written by Yuval Noah Harari, it explores the future of humankind and the possible trajectories of human evolution in the 21st century.
It’s a fascinating read, filled with predictions that will stimulate your own thoughts about their impact on our healthcare system and, in turn, on our industry. Published in 2015, it’s especially interesting to read it through our 2023 lens, as we are already seeing glimmers of some of the advances the author foresees.
The premise of “Homo Deus” is that with the advancements in science, technology, and artificial intelligence (AI), humans will gain increasing control over their biological and cognitive processes.
As such, we’ll strive to overcome the limitations of mortality, suffering, and ignorance. We will transition, Harari argues, from being Homo sapiens (“wise humans”) to a new species called Homo Deus (“god-like humans”).
Though the concept of “god-like humans” might seem far afield, wearable technologies, genetic mapping, and advances in biotechnology are already moving us in that direction. How might the healthcare delivery system and care environments change in response?[sub] 5 impacts of technology, science advancements on healthcare
The book suggests that the healthcare landscape is likely to undergo significant transformations, and, in turn, our healthcare systems will need to change in equal measure. Here are some of the more salient potential implications:
Preventive medicine and personalized healthcare—With advancements in biotechnology and genomics, healthcare may shift toward a more proactive approach. Instead of primarily treating diseases, the focus may shift to preventing them. Personalized medicine, tailored to an individual’s unique genetic makeup, could become more prevalent.
Enhancement technologies—As humans seek to transcend their biological limitations, we could see a rise in the use of enhancement technologies, such as genetic engineering, cognitive enhancements, or the merging of humans with AI. Healthcare systems may need to adapt to accommodate these new technologies and address ethical considerations surrounding their use.
Data-driven healthcare—The increasing availability of health data, coupled with advancements in AI, will revolutionize healthcare. Predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms could assist in early disease detection, treatment recommendations, and personalized health monitoring. However, concerns about data privacy and the ethical use of personal health information would need to be addressed.
Inequality and access—The book also raises concerns about the potential exacerbation of inequality in healthcare. If enhancements and advanced medical technologies become available only to the privileged few, it could widen the gap between those who can afford such treatments and those who cannot. Ensuring equitable access to healthcare becomes a crucial challenge.
Design strategies to integrate new technologies
These potential advancements could have several implications on the design of our healthcare institutions. For example, as healthcare becomes more data-driven and reliant on technology, healthcare spaces will need to incorporate more advanced digital infrastructures to enable seamless technological integration.
This could involve integrating electronic health record systems, telemedicine capabilities, and smart devices for monitoring patients. The physical layout and infrastructure will need to accommodate these technologies seamlessly.
With a shift towards preventive medicine and personalized healthcare, there would be an even greater emphasis on creating patient-centric spaces. The one-size-fits-all approach will become less impactful from both an experience and outcomes standpoint. Leveraging technology to customize the experience will become more seamless.
Furthermore, as medical technology advances, healthcare spaces will need to upgrade their diagnostic and treatment capabilities. This could involve incorporating advanced imaging equipment, robotic surgery systems, or other cutting-edge technologies in a broader array of care settings. More designs will need to accommodate these specialized facilities, ensuring optimal workflow and patient safety.
Additionally, given the rapid pace of technological advancements, it may be essential for healthcare facilities to be flexible and adaptable to changing needs. Designing spaces that can be easily reconfigured or upgraded with new technologies could facilitate seamless integration and futureproofing.
Maintaining patient privacy and confidentiality will be paramount as the industry becomes more data-driven, too. The design of hospitals and doctors’ offices might include dedicated spaces for secure data storage and measures to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.
Of course, the types and extent of specific design changes will depend on the pace of technological progress, regulatory frameworks, and the priorities of healthcare organizations. In the end, though, the ultimate goals for quality healthcare design will not change: creating environments that optimize patient care, support healthcare providers, and adapt to emerging trends and innovations in the healthcare industry.
Debra Levin is president and CEO of The Center for Health Design and can be reached at email@example.com.
The post Keeping Pace With Technology In Healthcare Design first appeared on HCD Magazine.