Will The Pandemic Change The Design Of Health Facilities?

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the pressure on healthcare facilities is overwhelming. 

The question on everyone’s mind is whether global healthcare systems are capable of dealing with the virus outbreak? Well, the answer is no, simply because it’s not possible to manage a disease of this magnitude with the current infrastructure. 

That said, it has been over a year since Covid-19 gripped the world, so doctors now have some idea about the infectious virus. Naturally, we can expect to see changes to help deal with the pandemic. But what exactly are these changes? 

Be it vaccines, medicines, or our daily lives, our only hope is to adapt to tackle this situation. Today our main focus is on healthcare as all the talk has been about the challenges faced by our frontline workers. 

Keeping aside the fact that Covid is still largely unknown, will the modern health facilities help doctors and nurses? Let’s find out. 

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Design of Healthcare Facilities Influenced by Covid?

How Will Covid Impact Healthcare? 

Covid isn’t going away anytime soon, and neither is its impact. To understand the impact on healthcare, we need to look at three things – surgical equipment, testing centers, and hospitals. 

In terms of hospitals, again, there are three factors to consider – the experience of doctors, cost of treatment, and results. So, where does the design of healthcare facilities come in? 

These facilities refer to the building and spaces where patients receive treatment. And after a global pandemic, the system can’t carry on in the same vein; there must be certain changes. 

Be it the blueprint of the room, positioning of the bed, or area available for patients to recuperate; modern hospitals must evolve, taking these factors into consideration. 

What Changes Can We Expect? 

Post-covid, architects, and healthcare professionals are working together to change the social design of the global medical environment. Going by recent trends, the world could have fewer large hospitals; instead, focus should be on developing specialist centers and using robotics and automation to deal with future pandemics. This will stop hospitals from being overburdened with patients. 

During the ongoing fight with coronavirus, hospitals have failed to save the lives of millions of patients even after admission. Moreover, people who didn’t have Covid but suffered from other ailments refused to go to hospitals for the fear of contracting the virus. This led to further complications, which doctors could have helped avoid. 

Another important reason is the lockdown, denying people the chance to seek help and giving rise to mental health issues. Furthermore, we mustn’t forget the frontline workers who succumbed to the virus while saving lives. 

Everything that we have mentioned above points towards the need for more efficient facilities. And robotics will play a key part in that!

Robotics 

Robotics doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll have robots doing the work of doctors. There’s no way to replace doctors, but robots will contribute in a big way. For instance, they will help improve patient experience and outcomes, ensuring that doctors can treat diseases quickly. 

Rather than waiting for test results and machines to be available, robots can scan an individual’s vital processes, providing a detailed report. This will save precious time, allowing doctors to administer medicines and start the treatment ASAP. 

In other words, it will help prioritize patients’ health, preventing the spread of infectious diseases like Covid, sending them home quicker. Remember how we talked about efficient facilities? This is a tentative idea of how efficient healthcare will operate in the near future. 

Redesigning Emergency Departments

Covid cases worldwide are rising, so how do we get people to safely avail themselves of hospital services? The answer is pretty simple: redesigning. To handle the rush of patients, it’s essential to develop better admission points and emergency departments. 

Hospitals could have several management teams to differentiate patients, depending on the severity of their illness. Moreover, a doctor’s consultation can be reduced to its bare necessities, speeding up the process for swift treatment. 

During Covid, we often found the creation of temporary beds and medical services using offsite construction techniques. Once the virus is under control, these construction strategies can give rise to local labor-intensive practices. This means assigning jobs to the local people, leading to employment generation while also producing sustainable healthcare infrastructure. 

For example, local metal workers can help build the building’s facade, while artisans can produce patient-specific furniture. The latter involves hospitals asking them to model the furniture in a way that helps patients recover from a disease. 

What’s more, modern facilities should have the means for treating wastewater, ensuring that the water table remains unharmed, stopping the spread of diseases. 

Changing Primary Response 

We spoke about the need to reduce the burden on hospitals, and dealing with the pandemic has thrown up innovative suggestions. In the future, telephonic conversations and remote assessment of patients are likely to become the norm. Meaning, patients won’t need to wait at hospitals to find out what’s wrong. 

People will be able to start their treatment at home, following the doctor’s advice, thanks to video consultations. If the condition is serious, hospitals will be ready to admit the patient. 

Long story short, developing adequate infrastructure will reduce long queues, provide clarity and allot more space towards creating Intensive Care Units (ICU). 

Utilizing The Space 

As more and more patients seek the doctor’s advice from their homes, hospitals can filter out non-serious cases. Hence, we might see a change in the blueprint of healthcare facilities, leading to the creation of more surgery rooms. Furthermore, it will reduce the number of patients in the outer consultancy rooms. 

Even the reception area will change, needing less space while focusing more on social distancing and prompt response. Another important aspect is that there will be more room for storing drugs, vaccines, and raw materials. So, hospitals will have more protective equipment and greater medicine stocks to fight deadly diseases. 

How Will Quick Implementation Come About? 

When we talk about changing the design of health facilities, architects must also use materials that prevent viral growth. It’s critical that apart from regular sanitization, the hospital surface doesn’t allow germs or bacteria to thrive. 

Some simple yet essential additions could be automatic doors and gates, reducing hand contact. What’s more, the pandemic has taught hospitals the importance of being flexible. So, doctors and staff must use any available space for dealing with an emergency. 

Multi-bed wards will decline while air-filtration systems will be in demand to deal with air-borne diseases. Understandably, architects will be at the forefront, driving these changes.

 

Important Social Design Principles 

We’ve mentioned it in passing but now let’s look at the principles of social designing and why it’s crucial in contemporary society. 

  1. Hospitals Should Focus On Health 

We often lose sight of the bigger picture when dealing with a deadly disease, and the same is true for hospitals. Almost all modern hospitals focus on healthcare facilities rather than on the health of patients, which needs to change. The need of the hour is to create sustainable facilities for long-term goals. 

You may remember that we spoke about having space in a patient’s room, now we’ll tell you why. Hospitals measure success by calculating the occupancy of beds and the number of patients discharged daily. However, modern healthcare dictates that doctors should focus more on a patient’s well-being. 

At present, there are several private rooms but without much space. Having more space for recuperation will allow patients to respond better to treatment by walking and exercising their muscles. 

Besides, aligning the objectives of the hospital with the health of patients ensures complete recovery. 

  1. Listening To Opposing Views 

This may sound political, but listening to people from different fields who don’t think alike, is vital for developing better healthcare facilities. Be it architects, physicians, patients, or their families, healthcare professionals can learn about what changes people want to see simply by listening to them. 

Something as simple as ensuring that patients face an open window rather than other sick patients can significantly improve their condition. Also, designers should include new and reliable energy sources so that patients stay safe even if the power grid fails. 

  1. Safety Drills 

Architects should design the latest health facilities, ensuring that people remain safe during an emergency. For instance, if the hospital catches fire, there must be several exit points for people to leave quickly. 

Furthermore, administrators can’t afford to be casual, and all hospital staff must engage in safety drills. They must know the quickest route, from one point to another to help save lives and protect valuable equipment. 

That’s why, starting with the architects right up to the nurses, everyone plays a role in the smooth functioning of healthcare. 

  1. Maintaining A Record 

It’s important to keep a record of the people walking in and out of hospitals and the most populated areas of the building. Knowing the traffic, most frequented rooms, and the number of critical patients, architects, can help create a live map of the hospital. 

Although it may seem insignificant, creating a visual medium helps break boundaries and uncover truths. It’s possible to track if patients are coming in with a common ailment, which may hold a clue to the next pandemic. The bottom line is that no information is insignificant. 

  1. Keep Experimenting 

One of the crucial aspects of developing modern healthcare is continuous experimentation. It so happens that development stagnates after a couple of years, but if the current pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we mustn’t stop experimenting. 

Be it, architects or scientists, everyone must find ways to make the system better. As a designer, it’s important to review the plans after a while, making sure that everything is working smoothly. 

Sometimes, it’s not possible to understand if a plan works unless people start getting treated. What was originally considered groundbreaking might soon become obsolete. So, architects must be in constant interaction with the hospital staff, doctors, and patients to understand the need of the hour. 

Moreover, building a hospital is not the endgame; instead, it’s the beginning. For healthcare to flourish in the future, the hospital must strike a balance with the community. People want shorter waiting times and a hassle-free experience, which is only possible if architects can improve the existing structure. 

  1. Setting Up Testing Centers 

Over time innovative testing centers will become the norm. Once the coronavirus comes under control, scientists may develop an at home covid test for people. 

What’s more, instead of queuing outside hospitals, architects can design portable testing centers. Plus, rather than spending money on large buildings, doctors can use everyday structures for collecting samples. 

It will reduce the pressure on hospitals, guarantee fast diagnosis, and help detect the latest trends in the medical circle. For example, architects have already turned shipping containers into covid testing units. 

  1. Special Landing Bays 

Designers must develop special landing bays for cars and ambulances, ensuring that the staff can swiftly escort patients to the emergency ward. Hence, the vehicle ramp must be free of crowds to keep the line of cars moving, ensuring that people have easy access to the facilities.  

Even if the crowd in hospitals goes down, there’s still going to be a large number of people. And clear signs must be painted, highlighting which way to go, saving valuable time. This could be the difference between life and death. 

Also, parking facilities are important, allowing family members to arrive and leave smoothly, without waiting for other cars to exit.

Conclusion 

Hopefully, we’ve managed to give you some idea about the future of healthcare. 

It’s pretty exciting but equally necessary, as scientists have linked pandemics to environmental degradation. So, until humans find a way to manage natural resources, healthcare needs to be better equipped to deal with future crises. 

Time for us to bid you goodbye. Take care and see you soon!

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