PROSPECT: Humanising healthcare through digitalisation

Published 2020-01-08

Healthcare architecture will be developed to improve and streamline health services. Semrén & Månsson's health studio predicts what the future holds for patients, healthcare providers, and architects.

Health Data & Smart Products
A current trend that will be developed further is health data; information about us collected by smart products. From the watches and rings that we're using today, to the future toilets and refrigerators with the ability to tell us about our health status and transfer the information to the healthcare provider. This will facilitate focusing on proactive care. 

An increasingly large part of the reactive care will be carried out at home, via video calls and home visits. The patient's health data is sent digitally to a central, that can help assess the patient's needs, diagnose them, and provide the correct treatment, via telephone, home visits, or visits to specialist hospitals. 

The number of hospital visits is predicted to decline, which will be an important trend in a world where antibiotic resistance is dramatically increasing, meaning the hospital itself could make you ill. 

Healthcare in Hospitals
Specialist hospitals will emerge in the centre of all major cities to streamline the healthcare, acting as hubs in a cohesive and close-knit healthcare chain, without inpatient care. Instead, the hospitals will focus on treating day patients, in an effort to shorten hospital visits and give all citizens access to the healthcare they require.  

The hospitals will be space efficiently constructed, placing storage and operating space outside the cities. Self-driving electric cars will make several trips each day with pre-packed surgical trolleys and staples, and return with laundry and waste. The specialist hospital will act as a hub, monitoring the surroundings and being able to direct resources and skills to the right place at the right time. They will also have access to the best possible equipment to offer patients the opportunity to comfortable and safe care. After-care will take place in the home, where the patient is monitored through a bracelet. 

The highly specialised healthcare will become more centralised, and general healthcare more decentralised. The degree of decentralisation will depend on how far we can drive digitalisation. We will be constructing on a smaller scale since the needs for space will decline, and to facilitate the ability to adjustment and change with time. The digitalisation will be used to control and optimise the hospital's supply with a bare minimum of manual labour, says Henrik Almgren, senior project manager of healthcare in Gothenburg - Sjukhusen i Väster, project manager of Högsbo specialist hospital. 

The Future Health Centers
There will be a shift from today's working methods where the staff work in individual offices, towards an activity-based workplace. Administrative work will be team-based and carried out in open-plan offices, which improves the opportunity for cooperation, leading to a quicker and more accurate treatment of the patient, and in the long-run, shorter waiting time. The future meeting between the healthcare provider and the patient will take place in a pre-booked consulting room, and via the development of mobile teams, home visits, and other treatment solutions. Furthermore, healthcare hubs ought to be located in areas where there's a lot of people, to ensure proactive wellness work, says Patrik Stark, estate strategist/estate manager at Capio Proximity Care.

The role of the architect
Our role in shaping health-promoting environments will remain essential. But the threats of antibiotic resistance will place even higher demands on hygiene, and it will be challenging to create facilities with a balance between high-quality healthcare, and humanity. This applies to both our future specialist and emergency hospitals, but also home care and healthcare hubs in the cities. 

Projects without drawings are already on the starting blocks and the hospital projects, with their large budgets and extended design process, are great for trying new programs and tools to make the projects less static but full of data. This will change the way we project and deliver documents. 

The hospital projects are often strongly linked to future users. We are already looking at VR and AR as important tools in communicating the project and receive valuable input straight from the business.