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Building New Hospitals

When building new hospitals, many decisions have to be made, and many of these ultimately have long-term effects and far-reaching consequences – not only on the patient’s experience and the staff’s daily routine, but also on the day-to-day operating procedures and costs of the entire hospital. If the physical infrastructure does not function properly, anyone using it can experience unnecessary, and often painful, difficulties on a daily basis.

Modern infrastructure focuses on patient movement within the hospital and how the services reach the patient. The starting point of all infrastructure deliberations are the so-called value streams.

In a hospital, there are eight different streams that have to be coordinated: patients, their families, staff members, information, medications, consumer goods, equipment and, finally, the all-encompassing process logic. The wisdom of designing and building hospitals to meet patient needs has been proven. The leitmotif of the patient always comes first is both justified and undisputable.

Integrated Facility Design

Integrated facility design (IFD) is a modern approach to planning new and remodelled projects. IFD creates feasible solutions that are focused on patients and are economical, safe and easy to use. It consists of a process that takes place in eights phases. During all of these phases, feedback from patients and their families is gathered.

Integrated, in this context, means that patients and their families, as well as staff members and building executives, work side by side on the design of the hospital of the future. Louis Sullivan, the eminent American architect, had already established the principle of form follows function as far back as in 1896. It remains a guiding principle in architecture to follow the route from function to form. Yet, for a modern hospital, the route is significantly longer and more complex: from strategy to processes, from processes to function and, finally, from function to form. It is obvious that this type of work, and the vision needed to achieve it, cannot be led solely by an architect, but, rather, it must be led by the client who orders the new construction and the constituents that our client serves.

Integrated Facility Design (IFD) has many forms. The walkerproject team approach starts its work in a simulation zone as soon as possible. It is there that the processes are developed and immediately tested with the help of patients, their families and staff members. This facilities collaborative perspectives and decision-making as to future procedures and construction project requirements. This is how staff members and those they serve move toward the future even before moving into the new building.

The following four factors and essential questions about them must be considered during each planning stage:

  1. The Strategy: What are the goals that will be achieved with this building?
  2. The Offer: What will we be doing in this building?
  3. The Process: How will we work?
  4. The Eight Streams of Medicine: What will we need to accomplish this?

The answers to these four questions are foundational and dictate much of what will occur. It would be a mistake to think that these questions can be answered later because, as time passes, there will be less and less room for manoeuvring.

Case examples

Patient Room of the Future – Switzerland

This regional hospital will rebuild its inpatient wards as part of its hospital development project launching…

Future of inpatient care – Norway

The client will build a new university hospital. It will contain single-room wards only and will…

Emergency centre – Norway

This emergency centre will welcome 350’000 patients per year and will serve a wide spectrum of…

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