Healthcare Design Trends to Watch in 2021 and Beyond
2020 was a very difficult year for the healthcare industry as they were faced with so many new challenges, mainly stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. Because of the nature of the highly contagious virus, last year saw some major changes to the design of healthcare facilities, and these changes are likely here to stay. Here are some trends for healthcare construction that the experts expect to continue through 2021:
1. The Need for More Space
Healthcare facilities have seen an influx of patients and are realizing that they need more room to accommodate the higher number people seeking care. This need for space can take shape in many different ways, but the main two which we have seen is in widening hallways and enlarging rooms.
Lots of hospitals are quite large, but you may have noticed that they have fairly narrow hallways. This hasn’t been a big problem in the past, but with the easily transmittable coronavirus around, facilities need to widen their hallways so that patients aren’t crossing paths too closely. Another way to combat this issue is to design more efficient pathways through the building to reduce the amount of people who walk past each other. An example of this would be to designate certain hallways as one way. Widening hallways can be a very expensive renovation, so designing better pathways through the building is a good way to reduce the spread of viruses from patient to patient.
In addition to wider hallways, healthcare facilities are also noticing a need for more space in general and larger rooms. Hospital rooms need to be able to facilitate more people comfortably and safely, with an appropriate amount of space for social distancing.
Another trend that helps add space that is expected to continue is flexible facility layouts. Adding dividers or other means of safely separating people is a much cheaper option than fully renovating existing spaces. Adjustable room formats, including mobile equipment like medical carts and tables is a trend that is expected to continue in 2021 and beyond.
2. Larger Use of Automation in Healthcare Facilities
New technology is becoming more and more accessible and affordable, and automation technology will continue to boom in healthcare facilities. Whether its automatic opening doorways, touchless faucets and hand sanitizer dispensers, or something else, this trend will surely continue in 2021 and beyond. Additionally, automatic doors come with other benefits besides just reducing the spread of viruses and diseases. These doors can be remotely locked and unlocked, or can require ID to open, meaning that in emergency situations it can be easier to direct patients and staff where they need to go.
Any way that we can reduce the number of surfaces that patients must touch when going to the hospital is being assessed. With the new awareness of germ and bacteria spread from the COVID-19 pandemic, automation is definitely here to stay.
3. Safer Waiting Room Areas that Allow for Social Distancing
Waiting rooms in hospitals can get overly crowded and uncomfortable, but we expect this to change in 2021. The coronavirus has opened our eyes to the need for social distancing, especially within our healthcare facilities where people go with various infections and diseases. Waiting rooms must be updated to allow patients to feel comfortable and safe while waiting for their appointment.
The main concern with waiting room design is that people can be too close to each other, and the longer the wait times, the longer that multiple people will be in close proximity, and the higher the chance of transmitting a virus or disease to one another. So the first change that we expect to see is more space in waiting rooms to allow patients to spread out and allow for social distancing.
The other factor is that waiting rooms must be easily sanitized and disinfected after patients leave. This means we will likely see an increase in the use of anti-microbial materials in chairs, couches, and other furniture in these spaces. The tricky matter is to provide comfortability to the facility’s visitors while they wait, but to also provide the best safety measures. This could mean a change in the style of seating to provide less armrests in order to dissuade people from touching many different spots. Regardless of how each facility decides to handle it, we can expect a safer and more spread out waiting room area to continue to trend in 2021.
4. Better HVAC Systems
HVAC systems are essential in large buildings including hospitals, but if used incorrectly they can lead to the spread of airborne diseases and viruses throughout the facility. In 2021, we will likely see healthcare facilities investing in upgrading their HVAC systems in order to prevent the spread of germs. There are already high standards in healthcare HVAC, but it is possible that the experts will consider a re-standardization of the HVAC systems used in healthcare facilities after seeing how a super contagious virus like COVID-19 has been able to spread through them. Without a doubt, hospitals and other healthcare facilities will continue updating HVAC systems to ensure the safety of their staff and patients.
2020 was a defining year for the healthcare industry. With all the bad things that happened throughout the year, there are some silver linings, and one of them may be the advancements that healthcare facilities have made to make it safer for patients to get care. While not all of the trends we’ve seen throughout the last year will continue after a return to normalcy, the healthcare industry will surely never be the same. A big emphasis has been put on the safety of patients no matter what may come our way, and the hospitals will be much better prepared to face a global pandemic in the future.
As a supplier to the healthcare industry, Lakeside Manufacturing stays on top of news and trends in healthcare, and is here to provide hospitals with any equipment they need to take their services to the next level.