The world of healthcare is one of constant change. As new technology is tested and implemented, and as new studies are conducted and published, the way we treat patients and approach healthcare is always in a state of flux. As a product design and engineering studio that works to develop properties that suit this ever changing world both today and tomorrow, it’s important that Fredricks Design is always at the forefront of the industry. Here are a few of the upcoming healthcare design trends we have our eyes on this year:
Increased Focus on Patient Experience
America’s healthcare industry is increasingly more experience focused. There’s a greater focus on the patient as the customer, which is leading to healthcare design and business trends that value the patient’s overall experience at a hospital or healthcare facility. It’s clear to many healthcare professionals that positive patient experience can improve recovery times and reduce stress in healthcare facilities. In fact, 55 percent of healthcare architects, engineers, and designers reported that improving client experience was the primary priority for new healthcare design projects in 2017.
This recliner is an adept example of a healthcare property designed with patient experience in mind. Developed with Carolina Healthcare in 2010, this property features an ergonomic armrest, a user-centered, stowable work surface, and an air-cooled headrest. The patient is at the center of healthcare design here.
Patient-experience-focused design will continue to persist in other areas of healthcare as well. Personalized patient rooms that work to reduce environmental stressors and provide a closer-to-home feel are at the top of the list for many facilities. New facility designs and facility renovations are also seeing an uptick in design that focuses on residential warmth. Lounges, cafe areas, and well-lit common areas that feel less sterile are the future of healthcare design, and we expect to see more projects that put the focus on improving the overall patient experience.
Increased Infection Control with AntiMicrobial Finishes
Infection control is a healthcare trend that continues to evolve as we know more about the spread of bacteria and harmful microbes within hospitals and healthcare facilities. In the past, the elimination of porous materials like wood has been a popular trend in healthcare design, and we predict an increased focus on design for infection control in 2019. It has long been a priority for hospitals and healthcare facilities to incorporate antimicrobial fabrics that do not allow for the spread of bacteria and germs.
Recently, there has been a shift in the healthcare industry to develop and implement antimicrobial textiles and finishes that incorporate safer chemicals. Many stain-resistant and antimicrobial treatments on the market today make use of heavy chemicals that do protect against the spread of bacteria but have been found to be unhealthy for the human body in other ways.
The challenge in this healthcare design trend will come in innovating textiles and finishes that are functional and sterile, but that make use of safer chemicals and are also comfortable for patients and families. Finishes that can do the work necessary of a healthcare facility, while simultaneously improving patient experience are a key healthcare trend to keep an eye on.
Right-Sized, Scalable Environments Flexible for Growth
Healthcare in America is increasingly decentralized. While big box hospitals do still exist, they’re falling to the wayside in favor of smaller, personalized clinics and specialty facilities. Many of these facilities must provide the same scope of care as a hospital, without the space. This is increasing demand for right-sized environments that feature flexible, operationally efficient properties that can suit a number of applications.
In right-sized environments, scalable and multipurpose properties are a must. This line of casegoods for Stanley Innerspace, — easily flipped from stationary to mobile, and from patient rooms to any other healthcare facility environment — is just one example of multifunctional healthcare design that can adapt to its surroundings. Additional examples of flexible healthcare design include sleeper sofas with solid surface side tables and underneath storage. Multipurpose properties like these ensure healthcare facilities are offering the residential warmth that patients and loved ones are calling for, without disrupting the functionality of the room.
The future of healthcare design is uncertain. New, smaller facilities must accommodate a wide scope of services, without ample space. Right-sized environments that are easily modified for new and different applications are a must and will take up much focus in coming healthcare design projects.
Much of the healthcare tech that already exists — smartwatches, fitness trackers, heart rate monitors — supports preventative health. This technology works to keep people healthy, rather than treating patients only when they’re sick. As wearables and personal health technology continue to evolve, they will revolutionize the healthcare industry.
This tech accurately tracks and identifies health symptoms, leading to more effective treatment from healthcare professionals, and healthier at-home environments. As such, we’ll begin to see more virtual healthcare services and more healthcare design that accommodates this integration of technology as an extension of the human self.
Aging at Home
Not only is staying at home often safer, and less expensive for healthcare, with technology continually improving our healthcare experiences, it’s more and more realistic. The baby boomer generation is already making evident the shift in US seniors to age in place rather than seek long-term care facilities like senior living communities and nursing homes post-retirement. Upcoming healthcare trends are certain to see innovations accommodating patients who choose to age in place.
Already, open floor plans and accessible entry designs are key selling points for retiring homeowners, and we can only expect to see those at-home healthcare designs increase. Homes, technology, and furniture designed to assist patients who stay at home are another key trend in the future of healthcare design.
Lighting for Wellness
Increased focus on holistic wellness and a push for better patient experiences are driving the decision to update the way healthcare facilities incorporate light. Many studies have shown that the stark fluorescent lighting often associated with hospitals are a source of anxiety for many, and make it difficult for both patients and healthcare workers to feel at ease in a facility.
Healthcare designers and innovators are already starting to make improvements here. New and upgraded healthcare facilities are often built to optimize natural lighting, and a few have even begun to experiment with fiber and LED lighting systems that can diffuse calming light throughout buildings.
We expect to see an increased focus on lighting in healthcare facilities in 2019 and beyond. The more we learn about how lighting can affect the human body and mind, the more apparent the need for lighting solutions that improve patient experience. Lighting controls for individual patient rooms will become the norm, and innovators will continue to search for solutions that provide a natural, relaxing lighting experience.
The healthcare industry is continuously evolving, with new information and technology released every day. Fredricks Design works hard to stay on the cutting edge of healthcare product design and innovation. For creative solutions in the healthcare industry, we’re just a call away. Let us know what we can innovate for you.