Held in Dubai September 2017, the Building Healthcare Innovation and Design Show featured the latest in design, construction trends and technology available in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. HKS was represented by several speakers and attendees, including Jeffrey C. Stouffer, Dr. Mik Pietrzak, Ben Gonzalez, Terrence Houk and me. The conference, and its 3,800 participants from more than 20 countries, offered many valuable insights into the thriving health care sector in the MENA region. Here are a few of our key takeaways:
- The scale of healthcare work in the area is staggering. The MENA region has an estimated $55.2 billion worth of health care projects planned or in development in 2017. HKS presented several regional projects at the conference, including the Prince Sattam University Hospital and Al Moosa Specialist Hospital in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), as well as Kuwait Children’s Hospital in the Al Shuwaikh region of Kuwait.
- According to Informa, “the Gulf Cooperation Council’s population is expected to reach 57.13 million at the end of 2020, 61.08 million at the end of 2025 and 64.9 million at the end of 2030.” The significant increase in population will require new health care facilities in the coming years.
- Michael Chihoski, of the non-profit Joint Commission International (JCI), spoke on hazard vulnerability assessments (HVA’s) and surprised the crowd with a disturbing fact: the most frequently-used device in terrorist events is not explosive devices, but the typical motor vehicle. The news has been full of reports of cars driving into crowds on busy sidewalks and tourist areas. This complicates protecting vulnerable healthcare facilities due to the need to maintain and promote vehicle access on medical campuses for emergency and non-emergency purposes.
- While discussing lessons learned at the JCI session, we reviewed how hospitals typically call upon the younger generation of clinicians during disaster responses. These younger clinicians have limited family commitments of their own, no children or spouse, and are more apt to work the rigorous schedule that disaster responses require. However, many of these clinicians have never learned how to provide patient care “by-hand,” such as how to hand bag a vent patient manually. “The new-generation clinician has never had to learn how to do many critical procedures manually,” Chihoski says. “They often have been aided to a certain degree by technology, which typically is not available during a disaster due to lack of power, loss in communications or both.” Older clinicians learned in an era where manual delivery of care was typical. Therefore, good disaster preparations would pair younger staff with veteran staff members to provide guidance and alternatives to technology-dependent patient care during a disaster.
- Jeffrey C. Stouffer led a panel discussion on health care design innovations, including telehealth. Surprisingly, the U.S. suffers from an insufficient number of primary care providers, similar to the MENA region. Stouffer noted that about 20 percent of U.S. citizens live in areas underserved by primary care doctors. Telehealth can help offset this need. By 2018, around 20 million patients will be connected to home monitoring devices, such as digital scales and blood pressure cuffs, which can extend the ability to deliver a basic level of care to patients in rural areas of the U.S.
- Communication with users on project teams can be difficult for international projects. However, the director of health care commissioning for the KSA National Guard, Mairead McCarthy, reports that even simple, color coded floor plans and rudimentary 3D visualizations can break down communication barriers with non-English speakers, facilitating understanding and plan approvals.