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The Hospital of the Future

On Tuesday 24th May, Prof. Jean-Louis Vincent was a guest at the Champalimaud Foundation. He came to visit the facilities here and to speak at the latest of our “Cancer Talks” events: “The Hospital of the Future.”

  1. 25.5.2016

    On Tuesday 24th May, Prof. Jean-Louis Vincent was a guest at the Champalimaud Foundation. He came to visit the facilities here and to speak at the latest of our “Cancer Talks” events: “The Hospital of the Future.”

    Prof. Celso Matos introduced Prof. Vincent as Professor of Intensive Care at ULB (Brussels) and President of the World Federation of Societies of Intensive Care and Critical Care Medicine, before outlining his many achievements and accolades. His curriculum is far too long and impressive to detail here, but Prof. Matos particularly highlighted Prof. Vincent’s H-index of 140 – Prof. Matos admitted he didn’t even know that H-indexes went up that high!

    Prof. Vincent then took to the stage and, after thanking the Champalimaud Foundation for the warm welcome, surprised everyone present by suggesting that his presentation had become obsolete: “Today, I revised my opinion about new hospitals… I have now seen the hospital of the future!” So impressed was Prof. Vincent with the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, he called it “an example for virtually anywhere in the world.”

    Prof. Vincent began his presentation by highlighting the key features in his vision of the hospital of the future. One of these was a higher level of comfort for the patient, suggesting that future patients will not be so apprehensive about going to hospital because it will be seen as closer to a five-star hotel, with therapeutic gardens, large windows and a closeness to nature seldom seen in today’s hospitals. Once again, Prof. Vincent complimented the Foundation on its attempts to accomplish this by using the wonderful setting here to full advantage.

    Of course, technological developments play a central role in Prof. Vincent’s vision. He foresees “Smart” hospital rooms, with apps to inform you when and how to wash your hands; computers that show patient’s schedules and beds that can automatically respond to patients’ needs. He talked about hospital ‘robots’ that could perform many of the repetitive, time-consuming tasks, allowing the doctors and nurses to spend more time with the patients. “Dr. Robots” could allow healthcare professionals from anywhere in the world to communicate face-to-face with patients.

    Highlighted technology included:

    -          Artificial wombs for women who were unable (or even unwilling) to give birth

    -          Artificial organs

    -          Fully integrated machines i.e. one machine doing the work of many

    -          Wireless hospitals

    -          Augmented reality scanners e.g. to take blood samples without actually taking any blood.

    -          Portable CT scanners

    Prof. Vincent did go on to say that we must be careful “not to spend so long around the computer screen that we forget about the patient.”

    In fact, patient-centric care was at the core of the whole presentation. Prof. Vincent predicts much smaller hospitals in the future, with patients who are better able to research their own illnesses and get involved in the decision making process of their treatment. Patient’s will spend less time in their beds and more time actively enjoying their recovery.

    Finally, there was a round-table discussion with some of our doctors and department heads, and a Q&A with the audience. Particularly interesting was Prof. Vincent’s revelation that the stethoscope, for so long a symbol of the medical profession, had almost no value as a diagnostic tool nowadays; although it can still be invaluable as a way for the doctor to get close to a patient, and maybe even just to give the doctor a few seconds to think in moments of uncertainty.

    Not everybody agreed with Prof. Vincent’s vision of the hospital of the future, and this of course is inevitable: nobody knows what the hospital of the future will be like, but Prof. Vincent seems to believe that here at the Champalimaud Foundation we are certainly on the right track.

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