Key Lessons Learned from Micro-Hospital Design Methods
Micro-hospitals are in essence smaller versions of traditional hospitals. These smaller types of hospitals came into existence because of the rising demands placed on larger hospitals and to address gaps in locations where patients may not have easy access to hospital care. Now patients have access to conventional hospital care in a facility that is conveniently located and accessible while still being connected to different levels of care in a hospital system if needed.
Why learn from micro-hospital design?
Micro-hospitals are taking the complexity of large hospitals and scaling them down with a key focus on flexibility, functionality and optimal use of space. Even if your design project is on the scale of a standard hospital or other large commercial building, understanding the best practices that are used in micro-hospital design can help you create a highly functional, beautiful, efficient space.
Site & Location
To provide the best care possible, micro-hospitals have to be located within a 30-mile radius of the main or mother hospital and are typically placed in larger metro areas where the communities lack easy access to care. Typically these 15,000 – 50,000 square foot micro-hospitals are created for non-emergency or non-life-threatening patient needs. Therefore, if a patient is in critical condition, they need to be able to get from the micro-hospital to the main facility quickly.
When you are scouting locations for a building project, take into consideration the location of existing complimentary service providers or the area’s ability to accommodate other providers moving into the community. This is important not only for the experience of visitors, but to the long-term success of the businesses that will operate from your building.
Convenient location, ample parking spaces, access to metro transit, and surrounding businesses are all factors in how your building functions and how that ideal function will be felt by patrons to the building and building occupants. Locating a micro-hospital in the wrong location will hinder the mission of the micro-hospital and the care of the patients it is trying to serve.
Designing Spaces for Clients & Employees
Some areas are characterized by prominent cultural groups, and micro-hospitals are geared towards adapting to their specific cultural requirements of an area. For example, if a region is known for having larger families, waiting rooms will be given more square footage and children’s areas to accommodate patients that are accompanied by large families.
When designing a space, it’s important to keep in mind not only the purpose of the space, but who is going to be using the space. Creating functional environments for employees, building occupants and patrons is key to a successful project. Adequate comfortable space for nurses and doctors is key for employee retention. Working with the micro-hospital staff to design efficient work spaces and optimal traffic flow to minimize travel between patient rooms, x-ray rooms, and labs will result in better productivity.
Accessibility & Outsourcing
Micro-hospitals function best in a metro-retail environment due to ease of access. A key lesson to take away here is to make sure that the site is accessible to its main building patrons or occupants. For example, when a business caters to senior citizens, ensure ease of access by having the main entrance in a quiet street with ample parking. In some metro areas locating a micro-hospital near the city’s rail system or bus line could guarantee members of the community access to medical care.
The retail facility can also assist in reducing cost where some of the functions of the micro-hospital can be outsourced. Depending on the location, food service, laundry, and even janitorial services could be outsourced, saving building space and staff to focus on the care of patients. Consider choosing a location within close proximity to businesses that could be used to outsource portions of the building occupants’ responsibilities and needs.
Visibility & Recognition
Micro-hospitals have to be visible. They serve the purpose of streamlining the patient's medical requirements and can only achieve this if the patients are aware of and familiar with the facility and what it has to offer. Choosing a location that allows for exposed branding display can establish familiarity in the public’s eyes.
Micro-hospitals often fall under a specific hospital group that has a similar look and feel. Patients may expect the same quality of design as the main hospitals they are accustomed to. However, micro-hospitals also have smaller budgets than regular hospitals, so standard materials may not fit within that budget.
A similar look and feel can be achieved in a number of ways by adding signage on the building, using similar colors schemes as well as using familiar colors and furniture for the interiors. Don’t let tight budgets restrict your creativity. The proper use of color schemes and alternative materials can give your building a polished look without the high price tag.
Scalability & Flexibility
Most hospital buildings are subject to expansion, population growth, and technological advances. Micro-hospitals are also designed with these future changes in mind. Choosing building materials that are flexible, durable, and designed to meet future needs is critical in the design of micro-hospitals.
Micro-hospitals are designed to increase the flexibility of the facility. This can be accomplished in any type of building and the building team should collaborate to find creative and functional ways of increasing flexibility. For example, designing the space will minimal interior load bearing walls means the hospital will be able to change the layout of the facility in the future without a great deal of structural analysis and with decreased costs. This will enhance the useful life of the facility and reduce risk of the building become ineffective in its intended use at some future date.
The success of the micro-hospital is in part reliant on the scale of the facility. Smaller facilities do not need to accommodate the wide variety of equipment and resources required by much larger facilities. Even if the existing demand for a facility’s products or services is small, this may not always be the case. Design should accommodate scalability for the day demand starts increasing.
Time & Cost
Good micro-hospital design incorporates prefabricated elements or integral systems and carefully considers the structure of the building in order to shorten the estimated time of construction and to reduce cost. This allows hospital systems to deliver healthcare to patients in the community faster. Prefabricated and modular systems can be plugged into the main structural framework of the facility with ease. This assists with maintenance and allows for more flexibility within the facility.
Making use of integrated wall systems that already conform to regulations and standards will greatly reduce cost and allow for rapid project completion. The Bautex Wall System is a great example of how to achieve a fully integrated wall system that meets or exceeds code requirements, fits into any budget, and speeds up construction time. When a hospital system identifies an area to build a micro-hospital to meet the healthcare needs of the community the goal is to open that facility as quickly as possible within a set budget. Using innovative materials and designs is a key step in achieving those goals.
When effectively integrated into communities, micro-hospitals form part of a revolutionary development in healthcare. Micro-hospitals operate under severe pressure to adhere to regulations, acquire patients, and provide high quality and affordable healthcare.