Connecting the Dots in Healthcare

Our inaugural Design Connections event gathers leading healthcare thinkers and designers to ask the big questions.

On February 17, we kicked off our first-ever Design Connections event at the beautiful Island Hotel in Newport Beach, Calif. For three days, we heard from key leaders in healthcare design and grappled with the host of issues facing this rapidly evolving sector of the market.

Our 80 guests represented the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), the American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers (AAHID), the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID), and dozens of top-rated U.S. design practices and manufacturers. Lively panel discussions, CEU sessions, boardroom meetings, and one-on-one networking chats revealed many of the questions facing both designers and the manufacturers who supply them. And while solving these big-picture riddles will almost certainly require more than the short time we spent together, here’s a quick recap of some of the most pressing topics raised by attendees.

the decentralization of care
One of the biggest challenges and opportunities currently facing healthcare designers is the move to community-based care models, where patients choose the services they need in a supportive yet independent environment. The form and structure of these holistic communities will be largely determined by healthcare designers, and as Margi Kaminski, ASID, construction coordinator/interior design with Cadence Health detailed at the event, their experiments are just beginning.

“We recently received a large grant to establish a home healthcare model that just really kind of blows up everything we know about healthcare design outside of the more commercial setting, and it was an interesting outcome,” Kaminski said during the opening session, Patient Experience and the Future Role of Interior Design. “The one physician who’s leading this up, he had one particular patient who was using the emergency room almost on a weekly basis, and it was getting to be a problem. So they started providing home healthcare to her, and it radically reduced the amount of money and the effort that we spent to treat this woman. It really turned her quality of life around. It will be interesting to see as time goes on if that will become a more popular modality. It’s like what’s old is new again.”

the “doc in a box” age
Changes in healthcare delivery aren’t just limited to long-term care environments or specialized communities; thanks to cost and competitive pressures, drastic changes will be coming to healthcare consumers everywhere. Attendees emphasized the importance of staying appraised of changing standards and trends in the volatile years ahead.

“I heard one healthcare CEO predict that in 5 years 20 percent of the hospitals will be shut down—most of them rural hospitals,” recounted Ridley Kinsey, director of healthcare markets for Patcraft. “Because of financial pressure they’re not going to make it, so that leaves a big gap if you just look at that on its own. On the other hand, you hear Wal-Mart within the next five years plans to have a ‘doc in the box’ in all their rural facilities, so that’s filling that void pretty quickly. They already have a pharmacy; they already have eye care centers. It’s really pretty cheap, quick, and easy to put a little facility in there, and then they’re a total provider.”

“We’re already seeing some other larger healthcare systems now look at their standards programs to create consumer-driven healthcare brands, not just in the U.S. but globally,” he added. “Ten years from now, there are going to be more and more global healthcare brands.”

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