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A Few Predictions on the Future of Health Care

Recently, Swedish’s chief quality officer, Dr. Chris Dale, and I had the opportunity to participate in the Puget Sound Business Journal’s Health Care of the Future summit. Dr. Dale and I – along with leaders of several other health care organizations in the Puget Sound region – shared our predictions for how health care is likely to change in the coming years.

While no one has a perfect prediction for the future of health care, I believe the next five years are likely to bring many positive changes. One of those will be a significant increase in the use of virtual technology and community-based ambulatory care centers that enable patients to access care when and where they need it. We also expect a greater focus on wellness and preventive care that will, ideally, decrease the amount of hospital-based care needed in our communities. Third, we will be more price transparent with our patients and help them get the best value for their health care dollar. 

At Swedish, our five-year strategic plan transitions us away from a hospital-centered, acute care model to a new model we call “Health 2.0” that focuses on providing the right care at the right time, and in the right place, through an integrated system of care.

Swedish will see a major shift in how hospital beds and care are utilized. People in our community depend on us to treat them in our hospitals when they are sick. As the population expands, we will treat sicker patients in our hospitals, and more patients will receive care in outpatient facilities. I would encourage you to read a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that explains this concept. The traditional hospital model is changing.

At the PSBJ event, I shared the great sense of urgency that our Swedish leadership team feels about moving forward with the changes that are needed to make health care better for our patients and caregivers. As one critical piece, I strongly believe that partnerships among health care organizations and providers will be essential. With effective partnerships, we will be well-positioned to provide higher-value care to patients within their own communities.

Amid any changes, Swedish will remain steadfast in its core mission to improve the health and well-being of everyone we serve. We will also never waver from our commitment to treating all patients who come through our doors, regardless of their ability to pay.

I want to thank the PSBJ for holding the Health Care of the Future summit. It was an honor to share the stage with other health care leaders, many of whom are important partners for Swedish as we adapt to these dynamic changes in the health care environment.

Together, our organizations can be proud of our community for providing the care that patients deserve, even as we face significant changes in the years to come.

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