The Future of Healthcare Design

The explosive growth of healthcare globally has made this an increasingly competitive industry. In this region, specifically, healthcare is marked by stiff competition for physicians and consumers, increasing pressures by regulators, downward trends in reimbursement and increasing consumer demands. These pressures drive the need for tight budgets in all phases of design, construction and commissioning.

New facilities are being established to attract an increasingly sophisticated and demanding customer base and are being designed to offer exceptional customer experiences to attract patients and families as well as top physicians and healthcare professionals. Exceptional environments are used as selling points in an increasingly saturated and competitive market.

A healthcare facility is one of the most complex buildings for designers and it is therefore critical for the healthcare design community to work together to define new standards that address new building technologies, clinical programmes, operational requirements and patient demands.

The capability of the facility design to operationally adapt to the significant future patient care programmes changes and medical technology advancements of the future will continue to evolve at an increasingly rapid rate.

With this in mind, the design of healthcare facilities should be easily convertible and adaptive with a minimum of disruption to existing operations for future changes. Space flexibility is a key driver of success for a facility. Today’s programme requirements will change dramatically over time. No longer will budgets accommodate expensive renovation. We must offer solutions such as universal beds and modular units so hospital teams can flex to the new needs of their populations.

Sustainability is increasingly important and more and more our clients are demanding we design buildings that are sustainable. We are designing with the health of building occupants in mind – with a focus on the indoor environment, building materials selected for organic properties and air and waste handling systems that reduce toxicity.

The environment brings the outside in with open, airy spaces. Wellness is promoted through good air quality, temperature regulation, noise control, light wave modulation, water purity, and overall cleanliness.

But as we grapple with constricting budgets and tight schedules while aspiring to build impressive healthcare facilities, we have to remember who it is that we are designing for.

From the patient’s perspective an exceptional facility is seamlessly accessible, welcoming, calming and healing. Its design is sophisticated, communicating to the public that this is the place they will find the care they need – this is the workshop of top professionals and this is the place they can trust.

An exceptional facility is designed to meet the exacting clinical requirements of tomorrow’s hospital. Its design supports efficient workflow and team work and promotes a positive professional atmosphere respectful of the professionals it houses.


by Michael Arnold, Consultant Director Healthcare Planning and Design