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Healthcare Design Conference 2013 Re-cap

The 2013 Healthcare Design Conference was a great opportunity to engage with other design professionals, engineers, administrators, operation executives, researchers, educators, facility managers, and contractors from around the world through educational workshops, networking events, seminars, and an exhibit hall displaying new products and technologies.

The conference presented a unique opportunity to dialogue with many global healthcare experts about trends in a dramatically changing environment.  Healthcare design is even more challenging due to skyrocketing costs, changing demographics (aging population), advancement of technology, and patients’ expectations as they have many more healthcare options.  Patients are much more sophisticated and their appreciation of their environment definitely links design with the quality of care.  A common vision, mission, and goal of a healthcare organizations expressed throughout the conference was to provide excellent quality care and cost effectiveness.

It was evident that we need to be flexible in our thinking and have “an out of the box” view as our standard templates do not account for technology equipment advances that require different room sizes, and configurations.  Organizations are maximizing their investments by creating flexible, adaptable spaces to accommodate mobile intelligence.  The digital operating rooms (DOR) where the physician/surgeon is the information manager and orchestrating procedures using imagery overlay or holographic simulation during surgery is very different than the typical 1,200 s.f. hybrid OR with a staff of approximately 26 persons.  Future spaces will require less clinical staff, or none at all, and equipment is brought to the patient during the surgical procedures.  The new standard for intraoperative imaging environments article describes the MRI and CT equipment on overhead rails being brought into the OR’s and having one control room in the surgery suite.  One of the most interesting seminars was the Intelligent OR Infrastructure – Why You Should Discard Your Old Room Template presented by Carlos Amato, AIA, ACHA, LEED AP, EDAC, Principal, Terry Miller and Ted Hood from GBA Healthcare Technology Consulting.  The session focused on a new method of designing future, intelligent OR’s integrating equipment, future clinical processes, data, and telesurgery where the surgeon is miles away from the patient.   The use of a trauma pod or mobile surgical pod may be utilized in the future.



MRI machine

The facility tour of the Health First Viera Hospital in Florida provided us with a unique opportunity to hear the designers, clinicians, and patient’s evaluation of the efficiency of the five story 84 bed private patient rooms, acute-care hospital.  The following were a few of the principles – enhanced patient safety, optimal clinical utilization, wellness environment, and enhanced site development.  The completed building was evaluated on travel distances, commonly referred to as “sneaker time”, flow, central processing, daylight, site lines, parking and site circulation, standardization, and staff access to the outdoors.

The Patient Experience Simulation Lab consisted of a virtual-reality model and a full scale mock-up of a patient room.  Both afforded the opportunity to experience the design elements of a patient room and view various patient care-giver interactions within the space.  This exhibit is scheduled to tour the country so be on the lookout.

The exhibition hall provided us the opportunity to see new products and even test drive a patient ceiling lift system by transporting the sales rep in the sling from the bed to a chair.  New furniture systems were also on display for a close look at their features and construction.

Exhibition Hall 1


Exhibition Hall 2


The AIA AAH three day long Student Design Charette showcased the innovation of future healthcare architects.  The students were from several area universities and presented their vision of a VA hospital.

Exhibition Hall 3

I would highly recommend attending a conference as it is an excellent opportunity to increase one’s knowledge and broadens our perspective by engaging with the industries’ leading professionals.  The experience invigorates, encourages and challenges us to continue to provide innovative design solutions that enhance the quality of health care both for patients and clinical staff.  Our mission is very similar whether we practice in the United States, or in other parts of the world.