The Citadel Cannot Hold: Technologies Go outside the Hospital, Patients and Doctors Too

Use of the acute hospital has markedly decreased over the past four decades for various reasons: the decentralization of diagnostic treatment technologies to out-of-hospital sites; the clinical substitutions of quick diagnostic testing of the ambulatory patient for the longer diagnostic testing of the hospitalized patient; the diminished use of hospital bed rest and the expanded use of exercise for treatment; the corporate organization of hospital work that emphasizes efficiency; and the group practice organization of generalists and specialists that avoids hospital use for the diagnosis of complex disorders in ambulatory patients. A smaller domain for hospital bed care and renewed attention to chronic disease and prevention in the community diminish the hold of the acute hospital on care. The evolution of more collaborative, decentralized arrangements promises to be a positive development for community care.

Author(s): John D. Stoeckle

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Volume 73, Issue 1 (pages 3–17)
Published in 1995