Advancements in technology are transforming our daily routines when it comes to healthcare. Virtual doctor appointments, personal health monitoring devices, and automated medication delivery via Wi-Fi are just a few examples of how our lives are being revolutionized. These advancements are not limited to the consumer health aspect alone; technology is a vital tool for healthcare providers as well. It facilitates diagnostics, lab work, and surgeries, leading to a digital-first approach in the healthcare sector.
For more than a decade, technology has been the driving force behind healthcare innovation. However, it was often treated as an ad hoc addition to the existing architectural space. Nowadays, healthcare providers aiming to enhance efficiency and emergency preparedness – without compromising the quality of care – look to seamlessly integrate technology into the very architecture of healthcare systems, resulting in an elevated and improved overall experience.
Technologies Impacting Health Architecture Design
While certain technology tools in healthcare are relatively straightforward, such as Bluetooth-enabled patient beds, others are causing a complete revolution in the delivery of healthcare services. These revolutionary technologies are also influencing the way healthcare architecture is designed to effectively accommodate and support these innovations.
AI has experienced rapid advancements in recent years, enabling capabilities such as speech recognition, image classification, object detection, and decision-making. In the medical field, AI plays a significant role in diagnosis, treatment, and the delivery of care, aiming to enhance patient experiences and improve outcomes.
Some of the groundbreaking applications for AI in medicine include:
- Automated radiology to detect tumors and treatment options
- Identification of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and coronary artery disease
- Discovery of infectious diseases like typhoid fever
The recent innovation of applying robotics to surgical procedures has the potential to bring about significant disruptions in the fields of surgery, medicine, and care. One of the key benefits of robotic surgery is its ability to enable less invasive procedures, leading to reduced hospitalization time for patients.
Currently, robotics in medicine has various applications, including the use of remote-controlled robots for surgeries like laparoscopy and microsurgery. Looking ahead, robotics may play an even bigger role in hospitals, potentially leading to the establishment of a factory-like setting that efficiently utilizes this technology to facilitate a higher number of surgeries.
While 3D printing has been widely recognized for its applications in art, design, and consumer products, it is also making substantial strides in the field of healthcare. The accessibility and cost-effectiveness of 3D-printed biomaterials have the potential to bring about a significant reduction in medical care expenses and break down barriers to healthcare access. By utilizing 3D printing technology, medical professionals can create customized and intricate medical devices and implants, which leads to more efficient and affordable healthcare.
The main applications of 3D printing in healthcare include:
- Generating medical equipment
- Preparing 3D models of tumors
- Replicating human body parts
- Replacing finger splints
- Printing casts on broken limbs
- Making artificial heart valves
- Formulating 3D-printed drugs
Here’s an example of a 3D model created by Lawrence Bonassar and partners of Cornell University using a 3D mold and bovine cartilage cells.
Source: Middle East Medical Portal
3D printing is also valuable for creating made-to-order medical parts and equipment, such as custom implants, surgical tools, and fixtures.
Healthcare stands as one of the most data-intensive industries, accumulating vast amounts of information from hospitals, laboratories, clinics, medical wearables, and medical research. However, to fully leverage this data it must be interoperable, allowing seamless sharing and integration across various systems.
Telemedicine plays a crucial role in facilitating information sharing and expanding access to healthcare for individuals who face significant barriers otherwise, such as people with physical disabilities or those who live in rural areas far from major medical centers. By enabling care delivery at home, telemedicine reduces the cost of delivery and provides advanced home healthcare that gives the patient more control over their experience.
Incorporating big data and genomics into healthcare information technology holds enormous potential. These fields, though currently in development, could revolutionize pharmaceuticals by providing cost-effective solutions that address traditional challenges like medication failure or toxicity.
These are just a few of the biggest trends shaking up the healthcare industry, many of which are expected to be in widespread use within the next decade. As healthcare evolves, the architectural design must align with the profound shifts in care delivery methods and technology integration. This alignment will be crucial to ensure efficient and patient-centered healthcare systems for the future.
How Technology Can Be Incorporated into Healthcare Architecture
The primary objective of healthcare architecture is to establish optimal healing environments and enhance the overall patient experience. To achieve this, healthcare builders and structural engineers must account for the pivotal role of technology in modern healthcare delivery. This involves integrating technology seamlessly into all aspects of architectural planning, space programming, design, and layouts. By doing so, healthcare facilities can effectively leverage technology to provide advanced and patient-centric care, ensuring an environment that promotes healing and well-being.
Designing for Digital-First Healthcare
The shift to digital-first healthcare fundamentally transforms the interactions between doctors and patients within a healthcare setting. The rise of remote care and telemedicine necessitates the need for doctors to have access to private, purpose-built workspaces that surpass the capabilities of a current workspace, enabling seamless and secure consultations with patients.
Furthermore, clinical spaces will also need more adaptability to support cutting edge technological advancements, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), immersive experience, and intelligent in-room technology. These have the potential to enrich patient conversations and enable real-time diagnostics, enhancing the overall patient experience and healthcare outcomes.
Supporting Intelligent Clinics
Like advancements seen in retail and other industries, digital-first hospitals and clinics can provide a seamless, personalized digital patient experience, whether the patient is visiting virtually or in-person. By incorporating digital workflows, clinical environments can gain more efficiency while the patient experience becomes frictionless.
Developing Surgical Suites for Robotic-Assisted Surgeries
Utilizing both robotic-assisted surgery and 3D printing enables surgical planning to occur well in advance of the actual procedure. While 3D printers are relatively compact, optimizing surgical suites for enhanced planning allows surgeons to address pre-surgical concerns and evaluations, further enhancing the efficiency of the process.
Reducing Infections with Technology and Architecture
Technology plays a crucial role in promoting improved hygiene and reducing hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). For example, hand-hygiene compliance systems, equipped with infection control protocols, can significantly lower infection rates and save costs on readmission.
Real-time location systems can be strategically deployed to patient care areas and sterile processing areas. These considerations are important for the healthcare facility and healthcare contractor to determine the best allocation of costs and return on investment.
Creating Patient-Centric Rooms
While whiteboards have been the standard in numerous healthcare facilities, electronic equivalents can offer vital information to both patients and clinical staff. However, integrating electronic boards requires careful consideration of space and infrastructure. One important aspect to bear in mind is whether these electronic boards should be accessible inside or outside a patient’s room. This decision can significantly impact their effectiveness and convenience for patients and medical personnel.
Principles for Designing Digital-First Healthcare
Base Design Off the Physical-Digital Journey
Enhancing a better patient experience requires an in-depth understanding of the overall health journey. Healthcare architects must grasp the workflow of clinicians and their interactions with patients, in both online and onsite settings. By understanding these dynamics, architects can develop healthcare facilities that are optimized for the best possible experience.
Alignment of Space, Services, and Digital Engagement
An exceptional experience, regardless of the context, is the seamless blend of place, service, and engagement. By utilizing analytics, healthcare facilities and architects can collaborate to identify pain points and preferences in the patients’ journey. This process provides valuable insights for designing spaces and interactions that enhance the overall patient experience and ensure a harmonious blend of all essential elements.
Data-Driven Decision Making
The integration of data analytics and evidence-based design principles can inform exceptional design performance in a healthcare setting, transcending mere aesthetics. By leveraging these insights, layouts and workflows can be optimized with specific goals and areas for improvement in mind, resulting in the creation of valuable healthcare experiences. This approach ensures that the design of healthcare facilities is not only visually appealing but also effectively supports the desired outcomes and enhances the overall experience for patients and medical professionals alike.
Improve Brand Differentiation
In healthcare, patients recall their experiences at a facility much like any other consumer experience. These memories start from the first touchpoint and continue through discharge, leaving lasting impressions, whether positive or negative.
To create standout experiences that differentiate a healthcare facility from its competitors, it is crucial to align the physical and digital aspects of the patient journey seamlessly. Ensuring a cohesive and integrated experience across both realms enhances overall patient satisfaction and fosters a positive and memorable encounter with the healthcare facility.
Future Healthcare Technology Is Integrated, Not Added
The traditional healthcare facility model, which prioritizes pleasing aesthetics and functional design while accommodating technology is no longer visionary. In the evolving landscape of healthcare and architecture, technology is at the forefront, offering opportunities to significantly enhance the patient experience and improve healthcare outcomes. By embracing innovative technological solutions and incorporating them into the design process, healthcare facilities can adapt to the changing needs of patients and medical professionals, ultimately leading to more efficient and patient-centered care.
At Given Design Group (GDG), our approach to designing and building healthcare facilities is centered around prioritizing the needs and experiences of users. We are dedicated to reimagining the way healthcare spaces are created, incorporating innovative technologies that play a crucial role in providing exceptional patient care. With a passion for creative problem-solving, we excel in finding solutions that strike a perfect balance between the complexities of healthcare architecture and the seamless integration of cutting-edge technologies.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Will Technology Affect the Design of Hospital Facilities?
The increasing integration of technology into healthcare services is evident, requiring custom design components that seamlessly support and optimize these solutions as integral parts of the facility. These solutions demand custom design components to support and optimize them as part of the facility itself, rather than just an add-on.
What Challenges Does Technology Create for Hospital Infrastructure?
Technological advancements in medicine are key to providing better patient care and an elevated experience. Adopting various technologies in healthcare architecture can create functional challenges such as a greater need to support technology devices and sensors, purpose-built spaces for virtual appointments and consultations, and virtual command centers for technology adoption.
In existing healthcare facilities, the integration of new technology must be carefully managed to accommodate preexisting legacy systems, including patient record systems. Retrofitting these facilities requires thoughtful consideration of both old systems and new technology adoption to ensure a smooth and efficient transition.
How Is Technology Used in Healthcare Architecture Design?
Incorporating technology into the design of medical spaces is not limited to the final product. There is a growing need to utilize technology during the design and construction phases to enhance the end result and minimize facility downtime. For example, data analytics and modeling can be used to test design ideas and determine the best option before the process is underway. By leveraging technology in this manner, healthcare facilities can ensure a more efficient and successful building process while delivering improved outcomes.