Healthcare Interiors Trends and What Drives Them

Date: March 29, 2021

Taking consideration of current trends and what the future may (or may not) hold, there are a few patterns we notice when looking at designers creating for Healthcare spaces. Specific changes and needs in society, technology, and safety propel science-based design and patient-driven environments. 

What Are Some Trends We're Seeing?

In healthcare, there are new sciences emerging. Access and education about medicine and procedures are more available than ever, proving people with the power to choose their healthcare provider. A rise in competition is imminent and building. We also see the continuation of lowering hospital-associated infection through cleanable surfaces. With time, hospitals are expected to do more with less leaving designers to work with a smaller floor plan.

We see two major trends in demographics: aging populations and expanding ethics around cultural diversity.

Accommodating An Aging Population

We're living longer; that's great, but that means we need to accommodate as the percentage of elderly people increases. We are expected to see a 10% rise in the number of people over 65 in the next 40 years. More intuitive controls, larger readouts, and ease of getting in and out are necessary design features with this trend.

Designing For Larger, More Diverse Families

As for our population, we are growing and diversifying; the USA is expected to have no clear race/ethnicity by the year 2055. Factor in the longer life expectancy, and more people have multiple generations of loved ones to visit while in the hospital. More people take up more space, especially those with multi-generation support systems. Not only are we accommodating more guests, but their families as well. Efficient design is needed more and more as this trend climbs. With diversity comes diverse languages, so more emphasis will be placed on symbolism and multi-language readouts.

Tech Upgrades We All Expect

One of the most dramatic upswings we see within society is connectivity. Nearly everyone has access to some devices and uses them daily. Thus, we see propensity towards small desk nooks, integrated technology within furniture, and multi-use charging ports.

Designing For Increased Expectations in Healthcare Spaces

Within the industry, we are expecting a lot more from our healthcare spaces. From looks alone, healthcare is taking a page from hospitality, trying to look less "institutional" and promoting a healing and positive atmosphere.  Mid Century Modern style is popular among healthcare, a reassuring design for a progressive, contemporary match to the advancing technology.  Designers are wanting to use brands that conduct/publish credible research to back up the reassuring aesthetics; designers and customers alike are expecting more reliability and service from those brands.

Even with the shrinking floor plan, implementation of common areas are on the rise. It's a place for staff to take a break or get more work done, but also serves as an area for guests to congregate. With patients, staff, and guests being under stress, furnishings need to have empathetic qualities and put users at ease. As use increases, wear and tear become a driver for durable and cleanable fabrics throughout the hospital.

What Are Designers Looking For?

Seeing all these rapid changes within hospitals and surgical centers and their ever evolving needs, designers look to the future and how to accommodate change for treatments that may not yet be possible.

Furniture can be broken down into 3 categories:

  • Patients - beds, overbed tables, tables, chairs, recliners/gliders, casegoods
  • Family - couches/sleepers, recliners, casegoods, folding chairs
  • Caregiver - overbed tables, casegoods, rolling physician stool

Defining this furniture are these considerations:

  • Space Availability
  • Occupancy Flow
  • Aesthetic Goals
  • Furniture Comfort & Functionality
  • Room Function/Purpose

With trends in mind, we can deduce that there is more demand for recliners/gliders, casegoods, and guest chairs, while sofas/sleepers are on a downward trend due to space concerns.

Designers and patients are looking for a more dynamic healthcare landscape.  They need flexibility of furniture and space to maximize the floor plan, cleanable yet durable surfaces to lower infection risks and constant use, and accommodations for a growing range of patients, their guests, and evolving technology.

Tomorrow's patient rooms will need to transcend today's accommodations. Spaces of the now will need to serve multiple functions for treatments of today and the future. Healthcare science is there to help us get better; healthcare design helps us feel better.

For the full Haworth article, references, and details, click here.