E4H Environments for Health Architecture, a firm focusing on healthcare exclusively, recently studied and released seven predictions for healthcare facility design trends in 2018. Lets take a look at what is to come.
As VR technology becomes smaller and more mobile, architects and designers have grown increasingly able to collaborate with healthcare clients when it comes to designing these complex spaces such as operating rooms. VR benefits both parties with its interactive capabilities enabling immediate design feedback. Facility efficiency and safety is predicted to increase from VR planning. “VR headset technology breaks through the traditional limitations of a screen to put people “in” the design to experience, evaluate, and comment on everything from casework configurations to outlet quantities and furniture arrangements.”
According to US News & World Report, microhospitals are now operational in 19 states. These mini-hospitals are about 15,000 to 50,000 square feet, open 24/7, and maintain between 5 and 15 inpatient beds for short stay use. This model offers greater accessibility and convenience for residents and is a cost-effective market growth strategy for providers.
We have already seen an increase in Telehealth providers in the past few years with companies like SnapMD, Teladoc, Polycom and more. Healthcare consulting firm Sg2 projects that in the next two years, the volume of virtual healthcare patients will rise 7 percent and in-home healthcare services will rise 13 percent. Sophisticated patient monitors have been installed to allow a seamless consultations especially in specialty services like radiology, psychiatry, and dermatology. Many healthcare facilities will be implementing Telehealth with treatment rooms configured to accommodate remote consultation and an infrastructure for technological equipment. Telehealth technology is also transforming lobbies, common spaces, and admissions areas with kiosks and tablets.
The healthcare industry has recently noticed a decrease in re-admittance rates for instance, when removing out-patient services from the larger hospital environment. A more consumer-friendly environment has shown to create operational efficiencies and clinical outcomes. A perfect example of this is procedures like bone-marrow transplants (BMTs). Their treatment is unique and involves two phases of extended care; the first phase they are served like inpatients (surgery and post-op). The second, is more of an ‘in-between’ population where patients are vulnerable to infection and require monitoring for complications. For these patients a facility that feels more like a hotel than hospital, with cozier interior design; private suite-style rooms; and specialized air and water filtration systems to protect immune suppressed patients.
With the recent national opioid crisis and rising awareness of mental health conditions, hospitals are recognizing the need to accommodate cognitively impaired clients more effectively and sensitively. Hospital leaders are taking initiative in finding a balanced way to separate patients who pose a risk to either themselves or others from Emergency Department population while ensuring all patients are treated with compassion and dignity.
While delivery of healthcare services continues to improve, many day to day services and procedures can be performed outside of hospitals and in community locations for ease of access and customer convenience. Established retail locations are ideal for developers of microhospitals, outpatient imaging, urgent care, and medical office buildings. For example, E4H is helping Health Quest in New York to transform a former Macy’s into a new state-of-the-art outpatient medical services facility.
As explained above, outpatient services will continue to move from inpatient facilities, but hospitals will continue to see growth in patient numbers. As Baby Boomers age, 10,000 Americans will turn 65 every day for the next 20 years and respectively, the total demand for inpatient care will grow. While servuces are pushed to outpatient facilities, architects must design to maximize efficiency of space and movement of medical staff to serve inpatient populations.
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