Future-proofing healthcare with these rules

How do healthcare and hospital management need to adapt in order to future-proof their businesses? What challenges lies ahead and how can they increase their contribution to both society and a sustainable future?

In my work, I have the benefit of listening to and meeting both authorities in healthcare management and healthcare professionals. Based on this input and in specific, a presentation at the European Healthcare Design 2015 Congress & Exhibition, here are some new rules for the future of healthcare and how it impacts hospital design (if you, like me, think this is an important and interesting question, please feel free to read the full article with all ten rules on LinkedIn).


Better buildings cost more. Initially.

Yes, they do. But they will cost less over time.

Why? Because they will lead to improved care for the patients and their families as well as provide better work environments for the staff.

Well then, does improved care save money? That was one of the questions asked when initiating the Fable-study; a made up 300-bed hospital was planned where considerations of Evidence-Based Design (EBD) was included. The experiment turned out to be a success. With EBD incorporated in the configuration of the layout, one could anticipate less sleep deprivation, less medical errors and fewer incidents of patients falling during their stay. The added cost of approximately 8,4 % had a payback time of 3 years. The annual savings was estimated to 10 million dollars annually.

The PeaceHealth hospital in Eugen, Oregon, fully embraced the design innovations described in Fable and the result was amongst many things; shortened length of stay and a huge increase in patient satisfaction.

Become bilingual

Including acoustics and getting the design right from the start pays off quickly.
Including acoustics and getting the design right from the start pays off quickly.

Decision-makers need to look at both perspectives on money. In the US it’s called “dark-green dollars” and “light-green dollars”. The dark-green ones are the cost that you can see and measure in forms of salaries and similarly expenses. Light-green are the circumstantial savings that can occur. We need to go the extra mile and dig into how the capital dollars can deliver operational savings.

Embrace radical transparency

Hospitals need to take ownership of the direct impacts that are traceable to their organisation. Take action and take an interest in the ripple effect this may cause. If you don’t measure, you can’t manage!

A good example of this that I came to think of, can be seen in the transparency of building materials, which has undergone a huge shift towards wanting to brand themselves with great EPDs (Environmental Product Declaration); a verified and registered document that communicates transparent and comparable information about the life-cycle environmental impact of products.

Create an environment of care that people really, really want

This is the key to the healthcare system of the 21st century. Take the step from delivering goods and services to providing truly engaging experiences. Shift the focus away from Illness towards Health. Here is a list of what patients really, really want:

Use playful distractions in healing environments
Use playful distractions in healing environments
  • Reduce noise!
  • Make use of music
  • Serve healthy food
  • Provide playful distractions
  • Use natural products
  • Improve indoor quality
  • Use rooftops for healing gardens


Peaceful, healing, quiet places where patients can use their limited energy instead of fighting the environment.

Want more?

All ten rules are available in Maria Quinn’s LinkedIn article which is based on a lecture at the European Healthcare design event “Empowering Patients: Transforming the Health Economy by Design” in June 22-23rd 2015, London UK. Held by Mr Blair L Sadler, Institute for Healthcare Improvement and Mrs Robin Guenther, Architect and Principal at Perkins Wills.

Maria is our Swedish specialist in acoustics in healthcare environments, you can follow her on Twitter  or on LinkedIn.

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