For quite a long time, hospitals have continued to play a major role in the health care systems of various communities around the world. More emphasis was put on the development of health care during the world war when the military medical staff had to cope up with the huge number of casualties at the time. Ever since, there has been rapid development in matters pertaining to health care. The role of hospitals within healthcare systems in the western society has kept on evolving from time to time due to the fact that health care needs are changing rapidly and new technologies are emerging each and every day. There is also a growing demand by patients to meet more of their own health care needs.
For these changes to occur there must be a number of factors that accelerate them. These include: advancement in the scientific knowledge and technology, a shift in the demography of the western population, and the way health care is being financed (Porter, 1997). Right now we have things that we did not look forward to some fifteen years ago such as physician profiling, new magnetic resonance imaging, and the minimally invasive surgery. As such, the future is unpredictable because the role that is being played by hospitals is still changing. This is because technologies keep on advancing. There is also an increase in knowledge and structural changes which focus on improving health.
However, there are three major factors that will help drive these changes according to Porter (1997). These are: availability of advanced communication, information technologies and the ever growing demand by patients that a wider set of their heath needs should be met. In future, physicians should be more aware of their interdependence and the need for interaction with other health experts so as to provide high quality health care. They need to be forced by the health maintenance organizations on the expansive network of health care delivery, and increased complex care for chronic illness. They should also be increasingly linked. The use of e-mail and internet for communication should shift the sites of care so as to create more flexibility for both the patients and physicians. In this case, things such as preventive care will not require visits by the patients to the physicians. Health care will have reached where it has not before.
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As such, the way health care is being financed in the Western Society is expected to continue changing so as to cope up with the changing times, and in order to meet patient's needs, new models should arise for their health care needs. These changes should however focus on increasing the patient's knowledge and also empowering them on health issues, while at the same time increasing their responsibility. According to Porter (1997), this will give them an active part to play in their own health care. This is important because the health status of an individual is affected by his/her own health behavior, the environment, and the individual's lifestyle. Change in the people working in the hospitals will also be eminent. Future hospitals must respond to all these changes. For these changes to take effect, it may need fewer beds, more operating theatres and facilities that can offer quick surgery. The health care system also needs to be more flexible since diseases are always evolving and the ways of treating them will obviously be different from the current treatments.
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