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5 Trends In Healthcare Design And Construction To Look For In 2018


Last year was big for healthcare. The U.S.’ aging population and the growing demand for acute medical treatment led to a rise in urgent care centers while a shortage of doctors impacted how healthcare systems approach workflow efficiency. Meanwhile, technology is helping diagnose patients and has opened new avenues for redesigning the patient experience. 

As healthcare business models continue to shift, the design and construction of facilities has evolved in response. Here are five trends to watch in 2018.

1. Microhospitals will continue to gain ground 

Healthcare providers have started to expand their patient networks into targeted local markets, and many are using microhospitals to reach these communities. Microhospitals are acute care centers that provide ambulatory and emergency services. They have fewer beds and range from 15K SF to 50K SF, allowing them to operate in dense urban neighborhoods. 

As healthcare systems pull back on large projects, microhospitals offer less financial burden and benefit from a reduced build time. The Advisory Board estimates that building a microhospital can cost from $7M to $30M. In contrast, Dallas' William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, a major medical research center, is over 1.3M SF and cost $800M to build.

2. New patient management strategies in existing spaces 

Rather than build new facilities, healthcare providers have looked to improve existing spaces. At University Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, the hospital administration reorganized its inpatient flow and clinical care by dividing spaces in terms of planned and unplanned patients rather than inpatient and outpatient groups. In the new design, unplanned and emergency care patients will have their own entrance and clinical services. 

The new design could eliminate the problem of unplanned patients disrupting care for planned patients. 

The focus on managing patients highlights a growing interest in redesigning facilities with flexibility in mind. Modular construction and plug-and-play technology have become popular strategies in the healthcare industry, as patient demand and care methodologies continue to change. 

Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices in Antelope Valley, Calif.

3. The patient experience will get a tech upgrade 

Hospitals and medical offices are experimenting with online patient records and allowing more tech-savvy patients to access services from the web. Technology upgrades have started to impact physical healthcare spaces, taking a cue from the growing popularity of the Internet of Things. 

At Kaiser Permanente’s San Diego Medical Center, patients have the ability to remotely control temperature and lighting in their rooms. Patients no longer rely on nurses to make those adjustments. The rooms also feature interactive footwalls with 80-inch monitors that give patients access to medical records, educational information, the internet and entertainment. The monitors also allow patients to communicate virtually with physicians and family. 

4. Virtual reality will make the healthcare construction process more efficient 

Construction professionals have begun using virtual reality as a tool to improve on-site efficiency and optimize build time. 

For the healthcare industry, virtual reality allows hospital staff to provide input before construction begins. The process saves time and money for the builders who are using the technology. Using this feedback process, contractors can reduce work order changes and medical equipment relocation costs. 

“Virtual mock-ups and virtual designs reduce the cost of rework,” Skender Construction Vice President Jeffrey Janicek said. “These virtual representations bring the end user in early to confirm spatial layout, equipment layout and even simple things such as paper towel and soap dispensers. This process reduces changes and delays that typically occur in the last 10% of the project and contribute to over 90% of the project changes.” 

5. The rise of health districts 

Urgent care centers and microhospitals have made healthcare services available in local communities. Hospitals are looking to foster similar environments by creating health villages oriented around preventive care and value-based treatment. The districts call for close access to public transportation, retail, housing and green space. 

Design company Perkins+Will is working with the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to transform a former medical corridor into an over 1,000-acre healthcare district. The first phase of the 163K SF health village will include a healthy lifestyle clinic with 70 exam rooms, an outpatient surgery center and a free-standing emergency center. 

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