Standardising design and fit outs in modern healthcare facilities
One of the core principles to building out a cohesive brand that communicates with customers is consistency. Standardised enterprise values, operational structures and architectural design is key to standing out in the mind of customers. All of the biggest businesses in the world – Google, Apple, Nike – work because they standardise each and every customer experience with the brand.
The benefits behind design standardisation are an increasing call to action in the healthcare industry too. Cohesive architectural design and fit out choices are becoming key to lowering operational costs, streamlining the patient experience and building strong healthcare brands.
What is design standardisation and what are the benefits?
Healthcare design standardisation involves analysing the way in which medical facilities are designed, from overall structural plans down to lighting details, and applying the same core practices to each project. This process has been widely debated in the British health system for years, but is now also becoming an important issue in the Australia market, with healthcare facility managers particular advocates for the design theory.
US-based Mohawk Shared Services’ report on defining standardisation in the healthcare industry shows the main supporters of the ideology are healthcare facility management. Indeed, every one of the surveyed individuals agreed operational efficiency was the primary benefit of standardisation. With this design theory in place, doctors, nurses and specialists should know exactly where to look for something because it’s always in the same place. If their attention is not diverted from the caregiving task at hand and the quality of safe care isn’t compromised by distractions, patient healthcare and administration becomes more efficient as a whole.
But operational efficiency is not the only benefit. Others include an improved patient experience, lowered design and construction costs, and better fit-for-purpose facilities. To break this down further, the healthcare facility design standardisation process aims to deliver an identical medical experience to each patient every time they visit the facility.
Familiarity and comfort in physical surroundings has proven to help patients recover more effectively, as indicated by research published through the Building and Environment journal. Similarly, this design process helps to reduce the overall costs of a design or fit out. Once the procedures and materials are in place for a given project, it becomes simple to replicate this across numerous new facilities, reducing overall expenses. Lastly, a core tenet of standardisation is discovering the architectural design elements that work and ensuring each subsequent healthcare new build or fit out is as fit-for-purpose. Making the same structural or design mistakes that didn’t work with one facility’s aims on a different project seems ludicrous – but that’s the issue standardisation addresses.
Meeting the demands of an expanding healthcare market
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that 406,000 visits are made to a general practitioner every day, on average. This comes off the back of an 18 per cent increase in the number of healthcare services nationwide over the last 10 years according to the same source. These high figures are only set to increase in the future, as the Treasury Intergenerational Report shows us. Population forecasts indicate that life expectancy will increase to an average 95.9 years by 2055. This shows the challenges ahead for expanding healthcare infrastructure projects to meeting the increasing needs of Australia’s population.
This is another case where healthcare standardisation has a role to play. The economies of scale and cohesive planning made possible through standardising healthcare design mean operators can become more efficient in planning and building medical facilities. This will lead to fewer roadblocks in opening new hospitals and clinics, and will also encourage more fit-for-purpose design and service provision becoming the norm.
Delving into this theory, we see the mass buying power made possible through healthcare design standardisation as a major cost and time saving measure. For example, if a state government wanted to build three new hospitals, it would easier to order bulk amounts of the same construction materials than placing three separate orders. Similarly, supplying these materials when working towards a single design vision makes it easier for project managers and all parties involved in the fit out process to guarantee quality.
For operators to truly harness the opportunities made available through medical facility design standardisation, they need to work with experts in corporate healthcare design. The knowledge base of best-in-class enterprises can help deliver a single design plan for hospitals and clinics across a range of medical disciplines. Making each architectural and interior element fit with a cohesive whole will lead to a higher quality of healthcare provision and improved patient experience. This will drive a more robust and future-ready medical industry forward.