As hospital construction continues to evolve with the addition of things such as sustainable features, safer building materials, and smaller and more efficient medical office buildings (MOBs), so too is interior design changing with the times. And one of the newest trends is the move from reactive care to preventive care and a collaborative model, in which all concerned medical experts are involved in a patient's care and can meet in one space to discuss it.
"A lot of thinking is that preventive is much more effective in terms of health," says Stan Chiu, AIA, LEED AP, a healthcare principal at the Los Angeles office of HGA Architects and Engineers. He says it's also cheaper and is something that has beneficial behavioral, medical and nutritional components too.
"So a big trend on the inside of healthcare facilities is creating spaces where [specialists] that have different knowledge's can come together and collaborate on care with an emphasis on the preventative side," says Chiu. He says this takes shape in the form of "team spaces" that are designed in clinic environments, "so that team members (doctors) can hop in and out of exam rooms" and when they come out to do paper work and look at charts, other team members can go in the room and do a quick consult.
Chiu says the "old school" healthcare model is physician-centric and involves usually one encounter per visit. "For example, a patient being treated for diabetes would be heavily relied on to manage their own care among all of the different specialists," he recently wrote. "One appointment would be for an endocrinologist, another to see a nutritionist and another to see a pharmacist. There would be nothing connecting these specialists together to consider the best option for the patient, resulting in the patient being the care coordinator for their own treatment."
But now with community "team rooms," the different medical specialists can all meet in one area.
As an example of this design model, Chiu points to HGA's work on a new 110,000 sq-ft MOB in Mission Viejo, CA. Being built by Irvine, CA-based Snyder Langston, the project is just out of entitlements and should break ground at beginning of next year and is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2017.
"This is a building that supports a collaborative care environment, with a different floor plate than a typical MOB," says Chiu, who has more than 20 years' experience in healthcare and higher education. He says the design on this project allows professionals to move between different "team spaces" and departments without crossing the dreaded public space "barrier," which can be a "big impediment" if you cross a lobby for an important consultation with someone and get stopped by various people along the way.
He says the Mission Viejo project is also an interesting model from an urban standpoint because it sits on the property of a shopping mall, adjacent to a hospital that is owned by the mall.
"There is a lot of potential in that, if you think of malls, they have huge land banks around them in the form of surface parking," he says. "When a clinic needs parking a mall doesn't and vice versa. Clinics are really busy first thing in the morning and malls are real busy evenings and weekends, so there are some really good urban planning things that can happen."