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Healthcare design for five star wellness

Multi-billion dollar medical tourism is driving new design trends, says dwp’s Community Portfolio Director Richard Wood.

Already a $400 billion a year industry, medical tourism is predicted to increase by 25% annually in the next decade.

Bangkok-based Wood says the concept of wellness – which means managing good health rather than dealing with disease – is turning healthcare design on its head. Hospitals are evolving into “spa-like environments as an extension of medical tourism,” Wood explains.


‘A customer stepping on a first class flight doesn’t want to be assaulted with the trauma of accident and emergency,
or the antiseptic smell we expect from hospitals. They want five star treatment.’


This means elegant interiors with welcome lounges and private suites, the careful use of sustainable materials, natural light and plants, views of the outdoors and environmentally-controlled spaces with state of the art technology.

Advancements in technology are also reshaping the design of hospitals. Wood points to Singaporean facilities with “two kilometres of corridors for automated vehicles”. At dwp all our health projects are designed using BIM which means “we identify every single piece of equipment and every person from the moment they step onto the healthcare campus”.

But the speed of technological change demands “agile flexibility” Wood says. “Designs must accommodate flexible and modular plug-in elements and equipment to minimise disruptions.”

All this technology and high-quality design comes at a price, and this is driving the third trend – cost efficiency.

“Governments are increasingly outsourcing healthcare to the private sector, and hospitals have become big business. At dwp this means planning health facilities efficiently and intuitively to maximise financial returns.”


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