This is not an article about robots replacing nurses; rather it is about healthcare becoming more compassionate, more caring, more human. It may seem idealistic, but many people share this vision of the future.
London’s Royal College of Physicians (www.rcplondon.ac.uk) has outlined a project to review all aspects of inpatient hospital care: “The Future Hospital Commission, chaired by Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, aims to address growing concerns about the standards of care currently seen in hospitals and to make recommendations to provide patients with the safe, high-quality, sustainable care that they deserve.” This coincides with a recent statement made by Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne who is well-known for his involvement in public issues. In the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, he wrote that the National Health Service should be more compassionate and help patients find their own path to health. He also indicated that a person’s health relates to a number of factors such as housing, work and environment and that these things should be taken into account. His comments have been widely welcomed by the medical community in Britain.
The Future Hospital Commission will focus on five key areas:
1) Patients and compassion. This part aims to answer questions such as how to improve staff and patient morale and to cater for people from different backgrounds. It will also address some of the barriers to providing compassionate care.
2) Place and process. This will address how a patient moves through the hospital system and back into the community, highlighting the best processes and areas which require improvement.
3) People. What new types of medical staff should be developed? How should consultants work in the next 10 years? These questions and more will be answered.
4) Data for improvement. This part will look at ways in which hospital data is processed and suggest improvements.
5) Planning infrastructure. This will review such things as the physical environment, new technologies, and human resources needed to support the provision of integrated healthcare.
The report, due to be published in 2013, should produce some interesting results for many people connected with healthcare, not only in Britain but elsewhere in Europe.