In 2020, it’s been the year of disruption — most certainly for the healthcare industry. Disruption comes in many ways, including ever-changing trends amid generational preferences and ideas. The healthcare industry maintains its foundation as a healthy environment that supports patient healing, but how that looks in the future has never been more disrupted. Industry research is driving change not just in design, but in what a healthcare facility offers as a whole.
Armstrong Flooring continues its partnership with research firm WGSN to identify how and why disruptions are impacting healthcare. Here are four ideas to consider that will disrupt and change the healthcare industry. To read our original trend piece, click here.
The racial landscape of the United States continues to shift, and today’s youth is the most racially diverse generation to date. The U.S. Censure Bureau indicates that in 2020 more than half of America’s children will be multi-racial or non-white, and by 2044 the Bureau predicts that white will be a minority. This shift will have a large impact on the health and medical industries, including products and services that reflect this new majority.
As a result, retail healthcare is emerging as a means of delivering quality and convenient care to millions of consumers, as well as a model for the healthcare system to consider when providing services to everyone. By placing a healthcare service center inside a grocery store, or inside the mall (think of how Starbucks has accomplished this), healthcare is brought to a more convenient and approachable location. This service creates an opportunity to make encouraging healthy behavior easier and approachable, and it repositions medical services to focus on healthy lifestyles and an experience that feels more comfortable, like retail. By partnership and collaborations, consumers are more likely to want to use a retail healthcare because it increases access, expands convenient care, and provides direct access to advanced care.
With increased accessibility to internet and technology, telemedicine and integrated digital healthcare services will continue to play a crucial role in delivering care to all different types of patients, as well as protecting healthcare staff. Singapore-based health technology startup SSIVIX Lab launched its MyCLNQ mobile app, which provides real-time doctor and clinic availability, offers location-based suggestions for the nearest clinic and earliest available doctor, and confirms booking appointments. This type of hyper-personalized service for every individual, based on an individual’s profile and needs, is not only convenient and can reach more people, it also encourages customized check-up and services.
How we design healthcare spaces, and their ability to be transformational and adaptable, will become even more prevalent as businesses aim to do more with the same amount of space — or in some instances, with less. Clinic in a Can develops medical units that are easily transported serve patients in remote or isolated environments, or in areas where a more traditional hospital is impractical. These units can be configured as a primary care unit, critical care unit, surgical suite, trauma/emergency unit, dental suite, or most any other medical space as needed.
As healthcare is moving toward decentralization, digital access, and individual wellness, it will be critical to design it in a way that’s easy to approach for everyone.
Spiritual Rejuvenation and Restoration
Between the rise of actual doggie yoga and milkshakes with healing properties, the wellness industry is booming — to the tune of a $4.3 trillion business globally, with no signs of slowing down. There are a variety of reasons for the massive increase, including a global rise in anxiety, work burnout, constant connectivity, and the rise of the experience economy. All of these behavioral shifts are driving the wellness boom in different regions, and aspects of it are becoming more accepted and integrated within healthcare spaces.
Trust in healthcare — pharmaceutical companies in particular — is on the decline. There is widespread opinion that medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies place profit over people, and it’s this mistrust that is challenging the norm. A 2018 Weber Shandick survey found that 38% of Millennials (born between 1981 – 1996) said they trust their peers over medical professionals.
This has led to preventative care, alternative medicine, and mindfulness taking center stage. Like acupuncture, yoga, and other once fringe practices, Reiki — a form of energy healing where the practitioner transfers “universal energy” through palms — is now viewed by many as an effective, accepted alternative practice in mainstream America, where at least 1.2 million adults have tried the energy healing therapy. More than 60 U.S. hospitals have adopted Reiki as part of patient services, according to a UCLA study, and Reiki education is offered at 800 hospitals. Many health insurance companies cover Reiki when it’s woven into comprehensive treatment programs such as physical therapy, massage or palliative care and delivered by a nurse or licensed care professional as part of routine care during a hospital stay.
As designers seeking to create efficient, highly functional, and patient-centric healthcare environments, making space for spiritual rejuvenation and restoration will become a priority as this trend continue to rise.
The ability to read and understand space can be a powerful tool to orient healthcare workers within unfamiliar and rapidly changing medical spaces. Simple visual aids and design nudges can help mitigate infection transmission by clearly conveying risk zones, creating mental “anchors” for specific activities, and aligning behavior with policy.
One major shift is the focus from individual patient care to unit care, creating caregiving processes that place a heavy reliance on the transitional and public spaces between units. This means enforcing proper communication control protocols in hallways and key thresholds, like entries into units, may be as important as in patient rooms themselves. Using visual cues in design helps to accomplish this.
Another way visual design continues to integrate into healthcare facilities is through wayfinding. Visual cues in flooring design help make a healthcare facility visitor-centric, while visually dividing a building into separate areas helps individuals more consistently find the areas they are looking for, and to better prevent bodies from wandering into the wrong areas.
Out with the traditional healthcare spaces, and in with comfort and hospitality. To help make anxious patients feel comfortable, healthcare spaces are borrowing from the worlds of wellness and hospitality to create reassuring and welcoming environments. Spatial designers are adding more homely touches to make healthcare spaces feel more residential, borrowing from the housewarming trend used in co-working and hospitality. Furthermore, communal areas are important, with a growing emphasis on creating environments that enable patients to support each other during treatments. This includes ideas like communal dining and kitchens to interact, or intentional design that conceals medical equipment from open view.
Healthcare providers and retailers are increasingly exploring new aesthetics to warm up their spaces. Designs are moving away from the cold and clinical, and instead toward friendly, reassuring spaces that put the patient experience front and center.