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Patient room of the future

Recently, I watched a video showing a virtual prototype of Patient Room 2020.

Designed by NXT, Clemson University, and Birdtree Design for a project originally commissioned by the Department of Defense more than 10 years ago, this conceptual project still looks futuristic to me.

And we're less than three years away from 2020.

So I posted the video on LinkedIn and asked how close are we to this kind of patient room yet.

A Long Way to Go

"We are not close enough!" wrote Natalie Miovski Hagerty, Director, Facilities Planning, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. "Thank you for bringing this topic up again. We should all be focusing on how we can improve inpatient room design."

Andrew Quirk, Senior VP, National Director, Skanska, wrote, "Not very close. I was a part of developing this concept that is more about integration of technology and use of analytics than the architecture."

"The architecture is polarizing, but those that look beyond it understand the dialogue it creates," Quirk continued. "We have a long way to go in providing spaces that reflect evolving technology and modern models of care. Anyone up for the challenge?!"

I think the healthcare and design industry is up for the challenge, but it will be awhile before we see plug-and-play environments like Patient Room 2020.

Digital Interface Empowers Patients & Staff

There are many interesting features, like the "Patient Ribbon" digital interface to monitor vital signs, administer medical gasses, control lights, watch videos, etc. Or the Staff Resource Station with smart glass sliding doors and digital alerts for patient allergies, food restrictions, and other things.

The pre-fabricated modular aspect of the room design, which was pretty much unheard of 10 years ago, is something that's already being used in many hospital projects.

And I agree with Quirk that the architecture is a bit polarizing. Stark even. And maybe therein lies the design challenge: how to integrate this type of technology and so that it doesn't look like a spaceship?

Or maybe it's okay that it looks like a spaceship.  Except that patients and staff today aren't used to spaceships.

What's Next?

A few years ago NXT partnered with DuPont and others to build an actual prototype of Patient Room 2020 at the DuPont Corian Design Studio in New York City. It appears though, that DuPont has closed this studio.

I think patient room design will continue to evolve and eventually adapt to all kinds of new technology -- some of which we don't even know yet.

Beyond the hospital room, there's a lot of talk about "smart hospitals" using technology to improve operational and clinical work efficiency as well as enhance the patient and family experience. But many think we're a long way from that, too.

What do you think the future holds for patient room design?

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Leave a comment

Carole Hyder

7 years ago

I can't say this is much of an inspired space----technologically superb, yes, but comforting? Hardly.

Tracey McGee

7 years ago

Patient room design and technology isn't evolving as quickly as diagnostic areas. Focus is on early interventions and reducing LOS. The patient room of the future will ideally be one's own bedroom.

Von Lambert

7 years ago

Patient rooms of the future tend to focus of how things look, not how they function. A Tesla 4 door sedan looks similar to cars from decades ago, but embedded within the vehicle design are driver augmentation technologies that enhance safety, comfort and efficiency.

These same technologies are readily available for implementation in new and renovated patient care spaces, however they are not consistently implemented or deployed due to various self-imposed barriers. Shiny objects won’t improve the delivery or healthcare, the same design rigor that went into the development of fire detection and suppression systems to yield a near zero patient incident rate can be utilized to design healthcare built environments that achieves similar results with preventable patient deaths.

Sara Marberry_013-Retouched-New copy

What's my story? I'm a healthcare and senior living design knowledge expert who writes and speaks frequently about trends and issues affecting these two industries. I'm also a strategic marketing consultant and content creator, working with companies and organizations who want to improve the quality of healthcare and senior living through the design of the physical environment. You can reach me at .

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