It wasn’t that long ago — see those classic black-and-white movies — when hospitals commonly cared for many different kinds of patients in large open wards. Young volunteers, women known as “candy stripers,” could be seen rolling carts down the aisles between the many rows of beds, selling cigarettes. Families might pop in for a visit, carrying for their sick kin a chicken dinner on a plate covered by a white napkin.
With the huge changes that the Affordable Care Act has brought to hospitals and American health care, and with the shifts that are yet to come if Obamacare gets repealed and replaced, it’s easy to forget how significantly and rapidly medical services continue to transform.
Hospitals already are declining in number while often growing in size due to technology, economics, demographics, and other giant forces. As the nation grows ever grayer and an aging American population demands different medical services, what’s the longer future for health care, especially given that studies increasingly show that, in many ways, medical and especially hospital care can be detrimental and even deadly to us?
The web site Politico has produced an intriguing package of stories examining the Agenda 2020 for health care. It’s worth a look, including the video (shared above, with a tip of the hat to Politico) in which a Johns Hopkins geriatrics expert suggests a powerful prescription to avert the notable harms that the elderly, in particular, often suffer in modern medicine: Keep seniors out of hospitals and care for them more at home.