Over the past several blogs, I’ve looked at a number of factors influencing healthcare design. Not surprisingly, technology has been an overriding force bringing greater healthcare options to more people. Yet as demographic changes and healthcare costs continue to resonate in the national conversation, healthcare planners will face new challenges to meet evolving market demands.

Colleague Kurt Spiering, AIA, ACHA, national Healthcare Practice Group principal at HGA, has been on the forefront of healthcare planning for more than 25 years. I recently talked with him about the changes he’s seen in healthcare campus planning in those years. He pointed to five areas that often influence his planning process.
Parking It’s literally impossible to think about campus planning without first thinking about parking and arterial access. As large healthcare facilities continue to expand further from the traditional urban core, accessibility is more an issue. Patients want to get in and out as quickly as possible. In addition, it’s no longer sufficient to pave a sea of asphalt surrounding a hospital. Parking today is integrated into the natural landscaping to create a more bucolic setting.
Transactional Care The movement toward outpatient services has made hospitals more transactional. Patients are looking for convenience. Where once a hospital has a single main entrance for all visitors, today there are multiple entry points and zoned parking where patients can access specialized outpatient services without passing through a central location.
Virtual Campus The internet is making it possible for patients to access services off campus. Through telecommunication technology, branding and decentralized services, patients can obtain care from multiple clinic locations—even from their home—while being connected virtually to the vast resources of the healthcare provider.
Preventative Care As cost becomes a greater concern due, in part, to the rise of chronic illnesses, healthcare providers are taking a proactive role in preventative care. Many healthcare facilities are planning wellness centers, resource centers and community spaces where patients can access resources to manage their long-term health.
Healthcare buildings should be designed for flexibility to accommodate ever-evolving space demands and changing programs. The patient rooms and patient units, in particular, offer the greatest opportunity for innovation to accommodate evolving technology and care practices. And as facilities outgrow their usefulness, they’ll need to adapt easily to new functions without expending resources.