Western medical planning works with Chinese projects to develop an international standard for hospitals and senior facilities, said Alan Warner, president of Beijing-based Warner Architecture Studio. Speaking to attendees at The 3rd Summit Forum of Chinese and Overseas Hospital Architects at the 15th Hospital Build and Infrastructure China Exhibition and Congress held June 21 to 23 in Nanjing, China, he predicts significant changes to come for the Chinese healthcare market.

“Healthcare spending will become more of a specialty and less of a commodity as the middle income population rises,” Warner said. “Discretionary spending on healthcare will also rise and lead to an increase in access control and availability for the consumer with the rise in the middle class,” he added.

In China today, there are more new hospitals and senior living buildings. In the U.S., there is more remodeling and renovation. China’s new facilities feature clearly organized structures with generous public spaces that use sustainable strategies including solar orientation, natural light and ventilation, and green spaces.

Warner enumerated a set of principles that combine Western planning concepts with traditional Chinese values to achieve common goals of improved conditions for patient care, including reductions in average length of stays and long-term complications.

The patient experience. The goals of a hospital or senior facility are universal. As part of daily life, these facilities must be designed with cultural awareness so as to provide a positive and supportive patient experience that assures dignity through privacy and patient-centered care. One way to maintain privacy of patients in public buildings is to design different entryways to separate patients from visitors.

Design and environment. Alignment of a facility with the natural world and access to natural light is important to sustain and nurture health. Rely upon evidence-based design principles such as private rooms for faster recovery and lower infection rates and variable-acuity rooms, which are less expensive, to reduce the need for potentially dangerous patient moves. Modular planning adds flexibility and adaptability.

Surgical suites. Incorporate hybrid surgical suites that can function separately or as a combined imaging/surgical unit to enable to improve outcomes by reducing the number of surgeries and patient moves.

Inpatient care. Consider the inpatient ward unit as a model of care. An update on patient wards, this model includes a small nurses’ station with an observation window to enable caregivers to see all patients in the unit from a single point of view.

Intensive care. This care model can be likened to three concentric circles of care. At the center is the medical zone. The nurses’ station is situated at the center with direct visual access into the next circle—multiple private patient rooms. The outside circle provides access to the patient by family members.

Charlene Marietti is executive director of editorial initiatives for Vendome Healthcare Media, publisher of Healthcare Design. She can be reached at cmarietti@vendomegrp.com.

For more Healthcare Design coverage of the The 3rd Summit Forum of Chinese and Overseas Hospital Architects, part of the 15th Hospital Build and Infrastructure China Exhibition and Congress, see "Three Ways To Cut Building Costs In The Design Process" and "Healthcare Design Trends: East Meets West."