January 15, 2015
Tyler Schwede

The world is getting smaller, faster and more efficient by the year.  Technological advances are a driver of this, but changes in technology have brought about a more important factor which humans are forced to combat:  the competition of efficiency.  People want things faster.  People want things more convenient.  Managing time is becoming the most significant common denominator in the consumers’ lifestyle.  Thus, a business’ outcome lies with their ability to cope with the consumer’s appreciation for time efficiency. 

So what is the human race doing?  We are using our technology to mitigate.  Businesses are creating software and even newer technology to better their counterparts and attract the masses.  Businesses, large and small, are starting to market their efficiency and track records in a way to showcase that they are the better option of the 2, 5, 100, or 1000 possible other candidates.  To the consumer, although aesthetic is an important factor, efficiency is a close second.

In the past, architects have dealt mostly with the clients' needs programmatically, aesthetically and economically.  However, because of the advances in technology and the change in human culture, architects are now facing the infusion of efficiency in design.  Although there are a variety of iterations designers go through before final consideration, there should be a deeper understanding of how design considerations will affect the people using these spaces and the efficiency of the business.  Not only should there be a reason for every design decision, there should be a research-infused, evidence-based foundation to go with it. 

In its current form, there is a large gap between research (efficiency) and design (aesthetic).  In most cases, there is little interaction between the two parties.  With this problem in mind, HKS LINE began developing algorithms to infuse research into the design process.  Using simplistic, interactive, parametric software, we now maximize the convenience for architects to make informed, research-driven decisions.  This software could potentially lead HKS out of the “gut-driven” healthcare design process and launch them into the architectural forefront of hospital planning efficiency and lean design.

The initial testing of the software was done under the medical/surgical patient tower program.  A recent client allowed HKS CADRE to compile frequency data for a nurse’s shift.  The medical/surgical program was the perfect testing platform, not only because of HKS’ extensive database of past and present projects, but also because of the speculation of efficiency that comes with medical/surgical support services, tower shape, etc.  Using this parametric software, an extensive library of heat maps, comparable distances and efficiency numbers were compiled to supplement the current parameters of over 70 different patient towers.  These numbers allow the team to understand what projects are theoretically more efficient than their counterparts and enables designers to market these findings and software to present and future clients, which will facilitate their efficiency needs.  HKS now has the ability to compare and contrast similar patient towers, investigate issues in support service planning and make assumptions on obtainable planning goals.  The most important contribution from this software is that it provides an analytical tool to use during the design process - to create iterations for the clients and, in return, we can make informed, straight-forward, comparable decisions in medical planning.

Recognizing the longevity of this opportunity, HKS is in the process of compiling frequency data for SICU and NICU patient towers to expand the model of a more efficient hospital.  These tools will not only better a hospital's efficiency, they will also decrease medical errors and patient falls.  These tools have the opportunity to increase HCAHP scores, bring a better nurse retention percentage and begin a new market to showcase.  But most importantly, supporting informed decisions by designers and increasing efficiency will make for a healthier and time-conscious healthcare environment. 

Posted in Health