This week we’ve seen conversations happening in the national media regarding the future of hospitals. A February 26 op-ed in The New York Times by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel asked, “Are Hospitals Obsolete?” His basic premise was that hospitals are shrinking in importance, and that it’s a change for the better. He contends that more complex care can be safely and effectively provided outside the hospital in alternative settings.
What Dr. Emanuel is overlooking are the changing roles that hospitals are playing to serve our modern communities. American Hospital Association CEO Richard Pollack put this aptly in a letter to the editor to The Times March 4.
Hospitals are not only for the acutely ill, as they may have once been. Their services extend beyond their walls and into the community. They provide care to all members of a community, all the time. They pioneer cutting-edge treatments and advances in medicine that save lives. They increasingly operate outpatient services, like the ones Dr. Emanuel references, and they do it with seamless integration with the hospital. This allows patients to transition from an inpatient to an outpatient setting safely and more efficiently.
In addition to all of this, hospitals are still a crucial lifeline for their communities. When disaster strikes — from major accidents of natural and man-made causes — only hospitals are adequately prepared to respond, 24/7/365, helping anyone who walks through the door.
Health care is changing, but hospitals are changing too. Hospitals are reinventing themselves to better serve their communities, all while maintaining the core services that serve patients in a way that no other institutions can. Supporting the success of your local hospital is supporting the strength of health care in the future.
WSHA President & CEO