Hospitals of the Future: Three Key Design Elements of Creating Functional Healthcare Facility

Updated on April 15, 2021

Healthcare construction projects are complex, expensive, and highly specialized endeavors. Whether it is a health center, clinic, or a large-scale hospital, these construction projects require serious oversight as they involve health requirements, strict regulations, patient safety, and advanced medical technology. No wonder business owners in the healthcare industry are facing pressure in delivering high-quality patient care.

Since healthcare establishments offer a wide range of medical services, they are the most complicated construction project since every room has its own functional units. These include treatment and diagnostics functions, such as emergency rooms, surgery, clinical laboratories, imaging, and in-patient care. That is why entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry turn to mortgage brokers for financing their hospital construction projects to enhance their healthcare facilities.

Despite these complexities, construction and design elements have the power to significantly transform facilities in a healthcare establishment. While all hospitals share similar attributes, it is important to consider how certain factors will influence the surrounding facilities. With that in mind, here are the key elements when building a healthcare facility.

Flexibility and expandability

These two elements play a principal role in a medical environment. Most old hospitals today are exerting efforts to convert existing facilities to accommodate the influx of patients. This is especially true when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, where hospitals are facing issues in lack of facilities and insufficient room capacities because of the increasing patient demand.

Treatment modes and medical needs are in a continuous state of flux. Thus, healthcare establishments must observe modular concepts of layout and space planning. One example is the application of generic room plans and sizes with easy access to electrical and mechanical systems. This approach ensures well-planned and open-ended directions if the hospital plans any future expansion.

Modern hospitals today have a massive swing bed facility to accommodate hundreds of beds and is also convertible into isolation wards. The swing wards can operate independently and are separated from the rest of the main facilities.

Hospital departments require flexible spaces so it will be easier to conduct renovations. This also applies to the electrical, mechanical, and structural design strategies. It will also give way for adaptability, where structural facilities do not constrain future changes.

Welcoming design

While hospitals are one of the least places we want to be, it is important to create a welcoming environment for patients. This means visitors and patients should perceive the establishment as comfortable, stress-free, and nonthreatening. That is why interior designers play a critical role to ensure a therapeutic environment in any type of healthcare facility.

A good hospital design should reflect the cultural and visual character of the healthcare establishment. These include transparent and open lobbies, covered drop-offs, and materials that create a feeling of comfort (e.g., paintings and seating areas).

Many institutions today are offering valet parking, check-in services, and concierge. They also set relaxing background music and art forms to create a welcoming aesthetic for visitors and distract patients upon their arrival.

Another example is to apply varied and lively textures and colors for the decorations and waiting area. Although the waiting room is one of the most stressful parts of a hospital visit, make it a comforting place by providing comfortable furniture, designer lamps, large windows, and expansive views. These elements can effectively mitigate family and patient stress.

Internal wayfinding

It is easy to lose your way inside a hospital. In fact, a study shows that 30 to 40% of visitors and patients are having troubles navigating hospital facilities. Without a better wayfinding system, poor indoor navigation can significantly affect the overall patient experience.

Visiting a hospital is rarely a pleasant trip, and it can even get worse with excessive use of maps and signage, which are very distracting and frustrating. Some hospitals are solving this problem by providing updated paper maps and navigation applications. But this approach can be very bothersome for most people.

Blending the patient journey with interior elements, architecture, and medical planning will reduce the need for directional signage. Less signage will provide more room for aesthetic elements that create delight and joy for patients. One example is to use visually distinct elements or bold colors at elevator banks and stairs to direct people towards them.

Just like in any establishment, natural light can go a long way in creating a well-designed space. Instead of depending on artificial light, maximize natural lighting to influence the general mood and create a healing and calming environment. A great approach is to provide outdoor views in patient rooms and seating areas. Some hospitals are using the promenade or concourse concept to join departments together for easier wayfinding.

Building a medical environment requires intensive planning to ensure a satisfying experience for the visitors and patients. A properly executed healthcare construction project offers functional facilities that prioritize families, patients, healthcare workers, staff, and the environment. Although a medical establishment will never be a place we truly enjoy, it is still important to make them better.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.