The job of a medical architect entails designing the layout and logistics of various healthcare establishments, including private practices, hospitals, and everything in between. Medical office architects have a particularly challenging job, especially considering the rate at which technology advances.
It’s up to a medical clinic architect to coordinate with the owner of a specific practice specialty to be sure how certain technologies and medical advances are incorporated into the design. This has to be an efficient collaboration, considering the precision required for drawing up plans for the space that include all the latest cutting-edge equipment, in addition to other relevant construction elements.
A Mix of Demands
For the job of a medical architect, it’s not only changes in technology and equipment that play a significant role in the final building plans. A medical building architect must also consider patient comfort and safety, and computer/network infrastructure. Advances in the medical industry aren’t the only changes that affect the finished blueprint- but new advances and top-tier technology in the medical construction industry itself.
As we press forward, design trends with regard to patient health and eliminating the carbon footprint, designs become more intricate – often featuring larger-than-life elements or designs you thought were only possible in the movies – or at least, years and years away.
In truth, the COVID pandemic was the catalyst for many of these utopian-like design elements finally emerging from paper and springing to life.
Medical Clinic Architect Industry Trends
What were previously concept designs suddenly began popping up in cities all over the country. You may have already had a chance to experience some of the following medical architect industry trends:
- Natural air ventilation systems cater to patient health and promote much improved indoor air quality…
- Open design areas with exterior exposure to fresh air and direct sunlight can even have retractable roofs or large operable skylights.
- Exposure to nature via planted trees or other live plants inside the facility to promote client wellness
- Heavy emphasis on solving overcrowding issues. The pandemic played a significant role in this trend, as social distancing forced medical office architects to create areas with more efficient waiting areas and outside waiting as well.
Accommodating Medical Advances
So, what are some of the most significant advances a medical clinic architect would likely make if you were overhauling or constructing your practice? These are the trends with the most momentum going into 2023 and are becoming more of a staple in medical buildings, private and public, all over the globe.
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is probably one of the strongest new trends in the medical industry and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. AI is already influencing several major categories in the medical industry, requiring medical office architects to incorporate machinery and areas to accommodate any new equipment, in addition to any computer infrastructure required to deploy these new AI systems efficiently. These are just a few of the more common areas of treatment AI is affecting:
Radiology – Machine Learning is currently able to automatically detect the presence of certain conditions in areas captured using CT scans and x-rays. In addition, powerful algorithms can use miles of data to accurately forecast health issues using genetic information. Using these same data sets, AI can offer the most effective routes of treatment – often much more accurate than those of a physician.
It takes planning to construct areas of a medical facility to accommodate the equipment required to house these types of systems.
Diagnosing Blood Infections – Currently, AI algorithms combined with a microscope can diagnose the presence of a blood infection accurately. This could potentially lead to automated or self-serve availability at certain medical clinics.
Robotics – The use of robotics has steadily increased over the last few years, becoming more common in surgery. Currently, plans exist to make surgery-capable robots a more instrumental part of microsurgery – including cardiac, neurosurgery, plastic, and reconstructive surgery. Don’t be surprised if medical clinics look more like industrial manufacturing centers.
In possibly one of the most progressive changes in the medical industry, a medical building architect who plans on designing anything substantial in the next few years should prepare to include space and logistics for 3D printing. What role do 3D printers play in a doctor’s office?
Although it is already in heavy use in the dental field, other things like splints and other important components can be printed on the spot. Heart valves and prosthetic limbs can be designed on the fly to save lives in a matter of minutes. Doctors could also print casts for broken bones, and there’s even talk of 3D printing certain types of medication.
In the distant future, physicians could potentially print regenerated versions of organs and tissue to replicate vital parts of the human body, eliminating the need for live organ transplants.
Of course, any of these models require a heavy focus on the design space, as 3D printers aren’t small by any means, nor would an office full of them be simple to operate. Designing the set-up and logistics end would take a skilled medical building architect.
How the Future of Healthcare Influences Architecture
As the speed of medical advances continues to increase, medical office architects struggle to keep up with the surge in new equipment and the demand for large spaces and more intricate infrastructure. More now than ever before, the medical architect plays an integral role in the success of any physician’s office. In fact, a great deal of your success could hinge on your ability to collaborate with a talented medical clinic architect.
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