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 15,00050,000 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.