In this series, Healthcare Design asks leading healthcare design professionals, firms, and owners to tell us what’s got their attention and share some ideas on the subject.

George Hurley leads DPR Construction’s national healthcare core market (San Jose, Calif.). Here, he shares his thoughts on designing for wellness, the benefits of prefabrication and modularity, and the importance of infection control measures during renovations.


  1. Making room for wellness in healthcare facilities

Healthcare is taking tips from offices, hospitality, and retail to build spaces that encourage long-term healthy choices for patients, doctors, staff, and visitors. Wellness is being incorporated in a variety of ways including walking paths, natural lighting, various communal areas, therapeutic art, healthier meal options, and spaces that encourage movement. These changes have been proven to positively impact patients’ and staff’s experience and health. For example, Shriners Hospital for Children Medical Center in Pasadena, Calif., created a healing environment using daylight, interactive screens, and access to outdoor spaces. The idea is healthier buildings mean healthier people.

  1. Be prepared for technology

Imagine being able to monitor glucose levels just by looking at a “tattoo” on a patient’s arm or selecting and replacing disease-causing genes. Technology advancements are making these ideas possible today and redefining healthcare delivery in the future. The Health Care Advisory Board’s presentation, “The New Innovation Agenda,” details recent healthcare delivery innovations such as bioelectronics, gene sequencing, gene therapy, artificial intelligence, 3D printer-enabled surgeries, nanoscale sensor technology, and real-time patient data. These advancements can result in shorter patient stays, increased diagnosis accuracy, proactive care, less invasive diagnosis, improved health system efficiency, and cost-effective medical management. Healthcare design and construction must be nimble to these rapid changes in technology and their inevitable effects on healthcare delivery. Early input and collaboration during design can facilitate discussions about technology’s influence on the future of a facility.

  1. Prefabrication and modularization

Healthcare’s increased need for cost control and speed to market is bringing solutions like prefabrication and modularization to the forefront. Recently at Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center in Jacksonville, Fla., the project team was challenged to design and deliver a 124-foot, 150-ton pedestrian bridge over a critical and highly used roadway. The team collaborated, conceived, and designed this steel structure with safety in mind, then fabricated and erected the bridge in sections that were prefabricated offsite. The bridge was completed with fully finished exterior building components over a roadway during one weekend, minimizing traffic impacts to the local community while saving time and labor costs on the project.

  1. Attracting a diversity of patients

Today’s patients represent a range of demographics, including baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials, all requiring different healthcare services, such as urgent care, women’s health, maternity care, imaging, cancer care, post-acute, and more. More than ever, these patients are empowered to compare the cost of care and the health system’s brand when considering where to seek services or their care provider. Ultimately, consumers want more choices, better value, and increased convenience. Design and construction should focus on the patient as a consumer and the facility’s ability to serve the unique needs of its community. Brand and amenities will attract patients making choices for their health services.

  1. Focus on safety during renovations and remodels

To keep up with patient needs, advancing technology, and aging infrastructure, more organizations are looking to renovations and remodeling. Renovating an existing healthcare facility requires specific technical expertise to adhere to patient, staff, and builder safety according to an Infection Control Risk Assessment. It’s important to frequently review infection control procedures and best practices, such as determining the class of infection control by looking at patient risk groups (office areas versus intensive care units) and the type of construction (non-invasive activities versus major demolition), and implementing mitigation techniques. Healthcare construction in an occupied facility has always required technical knowledge to prevent the spread of harmful pathogens, mold, and other hazardous contagions. With more consumer awareness of this issue and more knowledge about how disease spreads, this is more vital than ever.

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