Hospital Design Fit For The Future
The difficult thing about the future of hospital design is that, by its nature, we do not actually know what it is! Read more.
What is the future of hospital design?
The difficult thing about the future of hospital design is that, by its nature, we do not actually know what it is! Nevertheless, we can study design trends and make educated predictions that may assist building designers to allow for adaptability to the buildings of the future.
The demographics of our communities are constantly evolving. These are having a significant impact upon health and how healthcare must respond. Increases are being observed in diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular ailments.
Facility design for hospitals
Modern trends to assist in minimizing Hospital acquired infections (nosocomial infections) are increasingly leading to reorienting hospital design strategy to maximize short stay, daycare facilities and home based care.
Probably the single biggest impact upon operational healthcare will be technology. Paperless record keeping has been initiated in some facilities and will become widespread. IT data collection and retrieval can assist the healthcare staff to make quicker, more reliable quality decisions thereby helping to improve healthcare outcomes.
Expectations of patients and relatives are rising as are demands on the staff, so having a therapeutic healing environment that reduces patient stress and anxiety will lead to promoting health and improve the overall patient journey.
The role of technology in hospital design
Technology is also developing in the way buildings are run and maintained. It is important to consider renewable energy, so as not to be dependent on the utility network for developments. Solutions such as solar panels and photovoltaics can be taken into consideration which can be located on the roof and factored into the design for installation at a later date.
If the client has plans for future growth of their development, the Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing (MEP) engineer can take this into consideration at the initial stages of the hospital design while carrying out the MEP space planning. This would cater for a certain amount of flexibility which would be agreed with the client and factored into the design of the hospital facility. Also, if the architecture for the development was to follow a modular approach the MEP buildings services can follow suit which offers further flexibility.
Climate change is having an impact on our ever-changing environment and is important that the effect of these changes on the hospital building are monitored and the impact, positive or negative, catered for as the building evolves.
New technologies available to facility designers are allowing them to incorporate features of flexibility and adaptability. Building Information Modelling is an important tool to be implemented in the hospital design and construction. This will allow the Facilities Management team to fully understand the project and track and update the model with any changes as the building evolves.
Operational staff involvement in hospital facility design
Notwithstanding the above, Architects must fully consult the operational staff from inception to understand the time and motion studies thereby leading to more efficient staff care flow. Staff shortages within the industry means that unnecessary trips creates pressure on patient care. Demands for changes post handover/opening, which are all too often commonplace, are therefore kept to a minimum.
In conclusion, Clients themselves must carefully consider the future direction of their care strategies and communicate this to the hospital facility design and construction team in order to avail of the most current and available knowledge and technologies within the industry that will deliver long term value and efficiencies.
In order to achieve good quality hospital design that is fit for purpose the correct people need to be involved from the onset. The overall aim of buildings of the future should be eco-friendly using natural light, methods for noise reduction, utilizing greenery and artwork which are all well documented in having a positive effect on healing. Proper planning and consultation can lead to designing hospital facilities for the future.
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