Hospital administrators and medical center professionals who are now rethinking the design of their facilities should take time to consider our top healthcare interior design trends for 2019. If your facility isn’t as contemporary and inviting as you’d like it to be, focus on the following aims of HMC Architects in the new year:
By targeting these objectives, you’ll create a beautiful, leading-edge, and welcoming facility that fully supports the needs of your patients and staff.
As technologies advance, so should the ways they are used in healthcare facilities. For example, digital kiosks streamline the patient check-in process, while advances in telemedicine improve the level of care that patients receive. To maximize your facility’s use of the latest technology, focus on these healthcare interior design trends:
When HMC Architects designed the Kaiser Permanente La Habra Medical Office Building in La Habra, California, we included touchscreen monitors that allow patients to easily check-in when they arrive at the facility. Patients are provided with wait-time information and digital forms that need to be filled out in advance of an appointment. Not only do these kiosks eliminate the need for a receptionist, but also they benefit patients who might be anxious or who have auditory difficulties.
According to the American Telemedicine Association, more than half of all hospitals in the United States use technology to provide healthcare remotely. These facilities often offer doctor-to-patient and doctor-to-doctor video consultations; patient health monitoring equipment, such as remote cardiac monitors; and ‘wireless pill bottles’ that remind patients to take their medications. Designing conference and exam rooms with large video monitors and desktop and/or mobile computers fit with webcams allow consultations regardless of location.
You can also use technology throughout the design process itself. Virtual reality (VR) has greatly improved how we collaborate with clients. VR makes it possible to create a digital 3D model of any healthcare facility. This technology helps us and our clients make more informed decisions about a building’s design. For example, you can see whether wall handrails are placed in convenient locations as you “walk” through a 3D model of each floor of your facility.
Mobile Computer Workstations
Wheeled workstations allow doctors, nurses, and technicians to move from room to room and access patient information and other important data as they go.
Providing access to charging stations throughout your facility will allow patients, visitors, and staff to charge tablets and other mobile devices.
These advances in technology will improve operational workflow and staff efficiency, offer patients more options for care, and help you decide which design details matter most in your facility.
Healthcare facility designers recognize the benefits of flexible, multipurpose spaces. From featuring wheeled partitions in emergency departments to creating shell spaces in medical office buildings, architects help healthcare administrators treat more patients and maximize square footage. To design adaptable spaces, consider the following trends:
A prefabricated wall takes less time to install than a traditional wall and offers flexibility. Breaking the walls down to adapt to new patient or staff needs or future renovations is simple. Wheeled partitions are even more flexible. To split one large exam room into two or three smaller exam rooms, simply wheel the prefabricated walls into place. This is especially useful in emergency rooms, as you can change the size of treatment rooms or offer additional privacy to patients in seconds.
Shell spaces, or soft spaces, are areas that aren’t vital to the daily operations of a facility, but serve as temporary placeholders for future expansion. For example, a current storage room or rarely used conference room can be replaced by additional patient exam rooms, a pharmacy, or even an imaging lab when needed. When you design a few shell spaces that can quickly be converted into hard spaces, you make your facility more adaptable to accommodate additional patients and medical equipment.
Nurses often experience a great deal of stress and constantly seek more efficient ways to collaborate and care for patients. Centralized workstations provide them with the environment they need to succeed. Whether in a hospital or professional medical building, the workstation is the heart of nurse operations. By placing the stations in central locations, you can improve workflow and nurses can be in closer proximity to patient rooms. Fitting those stations with consultation areas allow nurses to collaborate with one another and discuss patient care with doctors and technicians. Centralized stations can also eliminate feelings of isolation and improve mood.
Modular Rail Storage Systems
Wall-mounted rail storage systems are easy to install, flexible, and hold all sorts of items. If a space is currently an office, you can store office supplies inside for easy access. If you need to convert that space into a patient exam room, simply switch the storage bins for glove dispensers and bins that better accommodate materials physicians need during exams, such as antiseptics, gauze, syringes, and penlights.
By focusing on these healthcare interior design trends, you can maximize space for exam areas, nursing stations, or administrative tasks easily, allowing you to improve efficiency, patient treatment, and adapt to the growing needs of your staff.
Today, hospital designers focus not only on creating beautiful spaces, but also on using materials in those areas that protect against the spread of infection. Approximately one in 25 patients in the United States contract a healthcare-associated infection (HAI) on any given day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To help prevent this, healthcare facility designers often use antimicrobial coatings on finishes of hard surfaces and lighting that fights the spread of disease:
Copper finishes are naturally antimicrobial and specifically used to kill E. coli, certain strains of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the influenza A virus, adenovirus, and other infective agents. Moreover, copper coating is aesthetically pleasing. For example, copper door handles used to help prevent the spread of infection are not only attractive but also add richness and warmth to the space.
Glass, ceramic, and steel surfaces coated in photoactive pigments kill microbes when they are exposed to artificial or natural UV rays. These coatings are often found on commercial and residential bathroom tiles to help them stay clean longer.
Installing indigo LED lighting can help kill bacteria. When bacteria absorb the light emitted by indigo LED bulbs, a chemical reaction is caused, which destroys the microbe’s cells. In our design of Henderson Hospital in Henderson, Nevada, we used indigo lighting to limit the spread of airborne bacteria in treatment and operating rooms.
Biophilic interior design brings the outdoors inside. In hospitals, biophilic design most often connects communal spaces—entrances, waiting rooms, and cafeterias—to daylight and nature to promote a calming environment for all who enter.
Embrace Natural Light
To implement biophilic design in your hospital, start by inviting more natural light into the space. Floor-to-ceiling windows, glass curtain walls, and skylights reduce the need for artificial lighting and help improve patient and staff moods. Additionally, a recent study published in the research journal Microbiome found that daylight exposure can serve as a natural disinfectant, specifically helping to kill bacteria commonly found in dust.
Integrate Views of Nature
When we designed Shunde Hospital of Southern Medical University in Shunde, China, we integrated a number of trees into a large plaza beneath a light-filled atrium inside the building’s entrance. Visitors can enjoy these views of nature while they wait for their appointments. Moreover, the atrium naturally helps with ventilation, which is especially important in a hospital located in a humid climate.
Consider the Space and User
While biophilic design can successfully blend form and function and is perfect for non-sterile spaces, such as communal plazas, care must be taken when implementing it in other areas of a facility. For example, patient rooms should get ample natural light, but window design must not violate a patient’s privacy. It’s also not always feasible to have vegetation in certain areas of a health facility. In those cases, nature can be accessed through artwork and even earth-colored tones on finishes, walls, and floors.
Designing to support concierge healthcare services is one of the most welcomed trends. Concierge healthcare goes above and beyond the basics of traditional service. While services vary from facility to facility, concierge healthcare can offer patients house calls, after-hours access to physicians, assistance understanding and completing insurance claims, same-day or next-day appointments, larger rooms, and luxurious waiting areas. In most cases, patients are charged an annual or monthly fee to gain access to these special services.
If you want to take advantage of this trend in your healthcare facility, you can create your own concierge plan by focusing on the following interior design details:
Neutral-Colored Waiting and Exam Areas
A neutral-colored palette makes spaces appear more sophisticated and helps patients feel more at ease. Crisp white sheets and eggshell-colored walls remind visitors of clean, luxurious spas. You can also add calming pops of pastel shades, such as blue sky blue or mint green, without losing the room’s sense of serenity.
Private Waiting Rooms
Secluded rooms in which patients can enjoy complimentary fresh coffee, watch TV, and surf the web on facility-provided mobile tablets will make them feel like VIPs. Comfortable armchairs and sofas, as well as warm wall colors, will make the space feel cozy.
Wayfinding that Supports Technology
Concierge healthcare goes deeper into technology than just offering check-in kiosks. For example, if you have a wearable digital fitness device, a concierge healthcare physician could download the information from the device right into your electronic medical record to learn more about and keep an eye on your activity patterns. One simple interior design detail that can complement this service is signage. A lack of clear wayfinding information can ruin the patience and visitor experience, especially when a receptionist has been replaced by a kiosk. Clear signage won’t add to the stress a patient might feel before and after appointments.
Designing for concierge or concierge-like healthcare can help make all visitors feel as if they are in a warm, modern, technologically-advanced facility.
Careful thought must go into planning healthcare interior design. At HMC Architects, we have years of experience designing for the healthcare sector and implementing the interior features that lead to the best patient, staff, and visitor experiences. We consider every aspect of your project, from aesthetic and technical needs and desires to budget and patient satisfaction. Whether you want to incorporate just some of these healthcare interior design trends in an existing facility or you are looking to design and build a brand new facility, our team will help you achieve your goals.
To learn more about the healthcare interior design trends that will have the greatest impact on your facility, contact HMC Architects today. If you have specific questions about interior design, email Pam Maynard, Principal and Director of Interior Architecture, directly.