HCD Virtual will be held Nov. 9-12 and offer a variety of keynote and breakout sessions delivered over four days. Healthcare Design is previewing some of the upcoming educational sessions in a series of Q+As with speakers, sharing what they plan to discuss and key takeaways they plan to offer attendees. For more on the HCD Virtual schedule and registration, visit HCDvirtual.com.

The Spectrum of Technologies: The Current and Future State of Healthcare, Monday, Nov. 9, 2:30-3:30 p.m. EST


  • Louis Meilink, senior principal, Ballinger
  • Erin Cooper, principal, director of project management, Ballinger

Healthcare technology is advancing at an accelerated pace, pushing design teams to figure out how to design and plan facilities to not only allow for current technology but facilitate and inspire technological advancement and innovation. Speakers from Ballinger will explore the spectrum of current and emerging technology and how they influence planning, design, and adaption in facilities, as well as share case study examples across a range of project types.

Healthcare Design: How has the advancement of healthcare technology accelerated in the past few years?

Louis Meilink: We’re seeing advances in portable and mobile imaging, increased integration of imaging with surgery, inclusion of “smart walls” in more spaces, growth in telemedicine, and wider adoption of wearables for remote patient monitoring. Given the acceleration of healthcare technology, the rate of obsolescence is also increasing, resulting in more frequent equipment and technology replacement. Communication technology is also growing—from caregiver to caregiver, caregiver to patient, caregiver to family—but integrating diverse systems continues to pose challenges. We recognize that technology can enhance patient/caregiver interactions, but not replace them. Our focus is on humanizing the healthcare experience and integrating technology so that it supports these interactions rather than hinders them.

How do these changes impact planning and design of healthcare projects?

Meilink: Technology is changing the way healthcare is delivered and the global pandemic has accelerated that change. Healthcare institutions and planners are re-examining what facilities and technologies are required to provide patient care, where they should be located, and how they should be staffed. Planning must accommodate what and how healthcare is provided now and changes that can’t be imagined over the lifespan of a building or campus. We’ve identified five primary design decisions that provide maximum adaptability in an ever-changing healthcare landscape: floor-to-floor heights, column spacing, locations and capacities of fixed vertical elements, targeted zones of flexibility, and resiliency measures. Focusing on these considerations early in the design process can help institutions future-proof their buildings to the extent possible.

What technologies or equipment is on radar?

Meilink: As 3D-printing technology advances, we expect to see makerspaces within hospitals, equipped to manufacture personalized solutions for patients in real time. We also anticipate an increase in virtual reality (VR) in healthcare, which can be used to support healing by creating a calming, immersive environment for recovering patients as well as to train caregivers, patients, and families through simulations. We’re beginning to consider how we integrate VR within the built environments.

For more on the HCD Virtual schedule and registration, visit HCDvirtual.com.