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Growth requires Flexibility

The speed our healthcare sector has grown in terms of patients, patient needs, protocols, paperwork, and politics has put heavy pressure on the entire system. Accordingly, this stress also puts direct pressure on the structures that house it. How can the structures of today and tomorrow address all these seismic changes while continuing to meet the needs of all those seeking medical help?

India is going through this as well. While India’s oversight mandates may not be as onerous, its population explosion creates an enormous stress on how they locate and build hospitals while incorporating the latest new sciences and technologies that can speed cures to more patients. Express Healthcare, the #1 business new magazine for healthcare in India, features a very interesting article on just this (http://bit.ly/1yN3Tue).

First. Hospital owners are very different. Unlike commercial projects where the owner does not take residence in the facility but rents space to others, hospital owners typically fund and then occupy the building forever. This requires that those involved with the visioning, design and construction develop a very close and trusted relationship with the owner to ensure their wants and needs are fully understood before getting started. This level of scrutiny and need-based analysis is not necessarily the case with commercial projects.

Second. Take a retail approach. Managing lots of traffic requires hospitals be built with that in mind. Program flexibility is critical to address the ever-changing needs of the individual patient and the broader community it serves. As this building must serve the community for 50+ years (likely far longer), it also must expand and contract with local population levels. Once Boomers work their way through our healthcare system, these buildings cannot be reduced in size. They must remain viable, efficient, and profitable.

Third. Flexible design. Technology is not only getting better, it’s getting smaller. Patients are getting older. System integration is becoming commonplace. While that’s today’s current reality, this will likely all change in 20 years. But the structure will remain and MUST continue to meet the needs of the sick and injured.

  • Develop inpatient room column grid platforms that flex based upon the acuity level of the department
  • Provide MEP infrastructure to meet future needs
  • Design with the overall Master Planning to compliment future growth

The healthcare industry evolves faster than any other sector, including technology, because of the mass human application that goes with it. Efficient and effective hospital design and construction is key to its ongoing success.

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