Emerging Trends in Healthcare Aesthetics

Emerging Trends in Healthcare Aesthetics

As more corporate bodies enter healthcare market, the ‘business’ of running hospitals requires a specialised approach to the interiors of the hospitals.

Tulika Puri Katyal

2007081531-5097738Hospitable and Hospitals, which have much in common etymologically speaking, seldom used to appear in the same sentence. In recent times, however, the major objective of healthcare architecture has been to design hospitals to make them more hospitable, to create ‘a pleasant and sustaining environment.’ Martin Fiset

Delivery of healthcare in India is undergoing a sea change. Part of it is due to the ever increasing role of private healthcare providers (80 per cent of healthcare in India is in private hands) and partly because of increasing technology, changing epidemiology of diseases as also demographic and environmental factors. An increasing awareness on part of patients and their attendants about the need for infection control, convenience and comfort and the ability of the healthcare providers in meeting this demand are resulting in many hospitals spending substantial time, effort and money in ensuring ‘hotel type’ comforts to add to the medical care. Indian middle class is growing at four per cent annually and possesses larger disposal incomes. An increasing number of people are, therefore, demanding better ambience and comforts, and medical technology excellence.

A few decades ago, infectious diseases, peptic ulcers and communicable diseases used to rule the roost, but now lifestyle diseases – cardiac, diabetes and cancer dominate. Inpatient admissions in paediatrics drive the point home. In yesteryears, paediatric wards were full of malaria, typhoid and dysentery—hardly any of these patients get admitted now. NICU and PICU have emerged as greatest needs and require different and children-friendly design and aesthetics.

Imagine you walk in to a large foyer with a huge brightly lit glass dome ceiling, floor of rich Italian marble with intricate patterns, walls paneled with rich dark wood and travertine stone with the soothing sound of water in the background and a nicely detailed front desk to greet you. No! You have not just walked into a five star hotel lobby; you are in the lobby of a recently built hospital.

One Step Ahead

Science and medicine have progressed to provide better and easier treatment to patients. Why should the architecture and the interior environment of a hospital stay behind in making the patient feel easier and more comfortable? With increasing consumerism and private players entering healthcare sector, hospitals have really become as much a business as an institution. The new hospital, therefore, should make a statement both inside and outside.

Design and final architectural expression in healthcare is reflective of the gradual shift in outlook of healthcare institutions from merely treating the sick to a concerted approach to harness healthy living. This has been triggered by globalisation, increased expectations of seekers and providers of healthcare and the participation of private players in the health sector.

Whilst design must follow function, it is equally important to note that with increasing sub and super specialisation in the medical world, architecture and design too needs to have greater sub and super specialisation. In a vast arena as in a hospital (which for all practical purposes is a minicity), an ‘all purpose architecture’ route is perhaps an anomaly in today’s world. Specialist internal architects are needed to handle the nuances of internal design requirements which vary from OTs (modular or routine), ICUs, CCUs, NICU, PICU to emergency, radiation oncology, dialysis and cath labs. Even the design of counters and nurse stations has to be changed to meet different requirements of different departments. Can you imagine a five-year-old child being managed in a ‘hostile’ hospital environment—what if he were suffering from a malignancy and was on chemotherapy? Won’t the design parameters for him be different than say a 70-year-old in a cardiac ward?

A Glamourised Set-up

Indoor air quality, and circulation building materials, flooring, design of ceiling, types and finishes of walls and doors, doors handles, toilet fittings all need specific and specialised attention depending upon where they are being put. As more and more corporate bodies enter in the healthcare market in India, the business of running such hospitals require an acute understanding and specialised approach to the interiors of the hospitals. With accreditation standards like JCI and NABH entering into the picture, the demand to meet higher standards of quality in the healthcare sector has increased. When added to increased expectations of patients and an increasing patient-centered care and need for energy conservation, the emphasis on aesthetic and ‘healing’ architectural design has entered into the lexicon of the healthcare world.

Pause a while, before vehemently rejecting collective wisdom. For remember my son, the very ideas that you oppose today, might be the ideas you may practice tomorrow: Socrates.

The writer is an Architect Urbane-The Design Workshop New Delhi
E-mail: urbane_tdw1@rediffmail.com