In this series, Healthcare design Ask leading healthcare design professionals, companies, and owners to tell us what caught their attention and share some thoughts on the topic.

Seth Sargent, Vice President of Healthcare White building (Birmingham, Alabama) shared his views on the impact of telemedicine, the rise of mergers and acquisitions, and how modular construction can change the industry.

  1. Speeding up technological innovation

Telemedicine is no stranger to the healthcare world, but the pandemic has accelerated the technology’s adoption throughout the industry. Social distancing has forced telemedicine to become a transitional standard, and it will be interesting to see if this trend will continue in the next decade. As more and more patients are satisfied with the benefits provided by this technology, face-to-face doctor’s office contact may decrease. As the number of patients in the waiting room may decrease, how will this precious space be reused? Will we see a dedicated telemedicine space for providers to conduct virtual interactions?


  1. Focus on local

Even with the existence and growth of national supplier brands, healthcare is still a very localized business. Metropolitan areas in the Southeast and Texas are growing faster than before the pandemic, and suppliers are planning strategies, such as building more clinics and medical office facilities, to serve this demographic shift. As people’s commuting time decreases and remote work is increasing, we are seeing major metropolitan areas continue to draw people back to the urban environment by creating living/working/entertainment communities. In addition, shopping malls in the 70s and 80s are being reused for new uses that meet the needs of the community, such as warehouse space for e-commerce delivery or healthcare facilities. I believe that the health system will continue to collaborate with retail, entertainment, fitness, and senior living development projects to enable the system to interact with individuals on a daily basis. These mixed-use centers can be places where communities can get health care from various providers and stay active and entertained.


  1. Looking forward to more mergers and acquisitions
    Consolidation is nothing new in the healthcare sector. It can benefit consumers by better integrating nursing services and bringing higher-quality care closer to home. Although the pandemic has slowed down mergers and acquisitions due to uncertainty and the coronavirus rescue bill supporting a system that is already in financial strain, activity will pick up as the rescue plan fades and a healthy system seeks to protect its territory and development. Therefore, we will see an increase in demand for design uniformity and creativity as the entire hospital system competes for consumer business. Regardless of the institution from which the patient receives care in the healthcare system, having a unified patient experience in all aspects from signage to architectural style is critical to the success of these mergers.


  1. Flexibility is still key

The pandemic highlights the flexibility of healthcare design, as non-traditional spaces are transformed into ICU wards, triage areas and waiting rooms, while field hospitals emerge within a week. Projects already under construction must be adjusted in the midstream to adapt to changing needs and new requirements. The pandemic has forever changed the way we think about and plan health care projects, because projects need to consider questions such as “will this pandemic happen again?” “How do we plan for things we don’t know?” and “Can we afford the worst-case construction?” The design team and the general contractor work together to ensure that everyone puts flexibility first. For example, one solution to consider might be to design convertible walls that can expand or shrink the space as needed.


  1. Will the modular structure change the rules of the game?

Modular structure in healthcare is still a hot topic, with many benefits including speed of completion, consistency and consistency of design, and possible reduction of manufacturing costs. However, as this approach matures to determine whether it will become mainstream, there are still some efficiencies that need to be improved in terms of price and manufacturing time. In fact standard. For example, transporting these modules from the manufacturing site to the installation site can become cumbersome and expensive, and on-site installation is not always simple plug and play. The contractor is working hard to determine how best to incorporate these pre-construction advancements into the project schedule. When modular units really affect all three components of the triple constraint—quality, cost, and time—we will see full adoption in the industry.

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