The ACA, Obamacare and Interior Design


Accommodating the ACA

A look at how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has the potential to influence the future of healthcare design.

By Kylie Wroblaski

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0313/I_0313_Web_Focus_1.jpg

    Because of the ACA, healthcare designs moving forward will have to be more adaptable and accommodating. Corgan and HDR’s design for the New Parkland Hospital in Dallas provides separate circulation paths for patients and staff to reduce noise and congestion.
    rendering courtesy of HDR+Corgan View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0313/I_0313_Web_Focus_2.jpg

    Because of the ACA, healthcare designs moving forward will have to be more adaptable and accommodating. The above nurse’s station, designed by Inner Design Studio, is modular, so it can be reconfigured as the facility’s needs change.
    Photo courtesy of inner design studio View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2013/0313/I_0313_Web_Focus_3.jpg

    The patient rooms at the New Parkland Hospital have been designed to be acuity-adaptable, reducing intra-hospital transfers, while nursing stations have been decentralized to increase staff time spent on direct care.
    rendering courtesy of HDR+Corgan View larger

Widely regarded as the most significant regulatory overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (more popularly referred to as the ACA or Obamacare) was signed into law three years ago, on March 23, 2010. And while we know the intended goals of the law—to reduce the number of uninsured Americans, decrease the overall cost of healthcare, improve healthcare outcomes and streamline its delivery—there are still plenty of questions about the specific impact it will have on the design community.

Considering how complex and varied our healthcare system is, it is hard to come up with firm answers, but there are two generally accepted assumptions that can help designerss prepare for the future:

  1. With greater access to insurance, it’s speculated that there will be a greater demand for healthcare services.
  2. Healthcare providers and facilities are expected to accommodate the rising number of patients while raising the quality and efficiency of healthcare, preventing chronic disease and improving public health.

To assist hospitals and clinics in meeting these requirements, the healthcare industry is depending on designers’ help and expertise. Let’s examine how each of these points has the potential to change healthcare design.

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