Adaptable healthcare design for your practice
It was all-change in 2020 as healthcare led our national defence against COVID-19. Medical and healthcare practices had to rise to the challenge and adapt to the new norms quicker than other sectors. Moving forward, it is adaptable healthcare design that will help future proof our practices. Medical fit-out company Evoke Projects offers advice for developing more adaptable healthcare fit-outs.
Standardisation makes for adaptable healthcare design
If staff and clinicians are familiar with the layout of rooms and the exact location of equipment, patient assessments will be quicker and re-stocking supplies will be more efficient. Going one step further, rooms can be adaptable if they are equipped for multiple patient scenarios including testing, consultations and treatment. Standardised rooms offer flexible patient care and are a simple step towards adaptable healthcare design.
Surge capacity management through a flexible healthcare fit-out
We have seen car parks being used for COVID testing and mobile units deployed, examples of COVID surge management. In future, flexible healthcare fit-outs can be more easily utilised during a patient surge. Versatility is key; designing rooms for multiple uses will deliver maximum flexibility. Multi-purpose equipment and adaptable furniture also give versatility, e.g. wheeled chairs so that infusions can be given anywhere, reclinable chairs for sleeping and universal rail-mounting systems for patient care equipment.
Vertical and horizontal expansion zones
At Evoke Projects, our approach to every healthcare design project includes one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: ‘begin with the end in mind’. Vertical and horizontal expansion zones are worth planning as part of your healthcare fit-out strategy because forward planning reduces long term healthcare fit-out costs.
Demountable walls rather than fixed walls offer the most flexibility. When undertaking a new healthcare fit-out, even if it is not practical to build additional areas immediately, consider positioning MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) infrastructure for potential expansion. Situating interstitial spaces in the roof for mechanical systems will allow for vertical expansion. Plumbing and electrical facilities on outside walls helps with horizontal expansion.
Zoning of MEP infrastructure can also help manage the costs of installation. For example, some practices may need negative air pressure rooms to reduce the risk of COVID spreading through the air. By situating those rooms in one zone, the costs can be reduced.
Equipping non-patient spaces
Adaptable healthcare design in non-patient spaces such as offices, meeting rooms or cafés will make these areas accessible during a surge or crisis. Include ‘hidden’ services during a new healthcare fit-out that can be activated if required:
- Wall outlets for oxygen or medical gases
- Extra electrical and data outlets for medical equipment and monitoring technology
- Wall plumbing for sinks
- Ceiling hoists so a room can house immobile patients.
Scenario planning for better patient flow
Consider your patients and different healthcare scenarios. What is the ideal end-game for each scenario? Look for opportunities to streamline patient flow. Not just patients, but staff, visitors, medical equipment, deliveries and re-stocking of rooms. In this way, your practice can be adaptable to the many scenarios that may present.
Adapting to our COVID world
COVID-19 may be under threat from vaccines, but it will remain with us. It has got under our skin in more ways than one and affected the mental health of many who fear it. As well as the practical issues of adapting to COVID-19, it has never been more important to be seen to be safe. For example:
- Touchless systems for opening and closing doors
- Touchless garbage disposal
- Automation to reduce the touchpoints of handling and signing forms
- Switchable privacy glass instead of privacy curtains between examination areas
- Sensor lights in every room so that light switches are not touched
- Materials and furniture that can cope with rigorous anti-bacterial cleaning
- Furniture that is and looks easy to clean e.g. seamless seating.
Reassuring healthcare interior design will show that your practice has adapted to the COVID safe world. Evoke Projects can help you with all this and more.
For information on adaptable medical fit-outs, please call the healthcare designers at Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692.