The Wellness Machine
Most tech writers speak of the computer as being in the forefront of the blossoming Digital Age. They are only partially right; many of the most impressive advances can be identified as computers.
However, it is the less visible uses of computers that will be the full-flowering of the Digital Age. We need to think of computers as more of the font, the wellspring of this Digital revolution in all modern technologies and services.
Hospitals are one example of an expanding Digital future business that is not, per se, computers. Hospitals will not be defined by their applications of medicine, but by their control of medical information.
In fact, hospitals are already so far removed from what they once were, they lend themselves as fit study for anthropologists. But before we look, let’s listen.
The first thing you notice are the myriad alarms within the system in a constant struggle for hierarchical supremacy. “My warning is more important, and therefore more annoying, louder, and more insistent than yours.”
Forget the old jokes about who really runs hospitals—it’s the alarm systems. And the joke is no longer funny. Just spend a night in a hospital and see for yourself. Before you have to.
Hospitals, as with all future enterprises, will be Big Businesses. Not so much in size as in their number of partners. Support services, like rehab, will come from a conglomerate, just as hospital foods will be supplied by the food conglomerates, and of course will all data and communications services.
The Hospital of the Digital Future will be an economic creature distinguished more by its bedfellows than by its patients.