However, patients are not the only [people] consideration, as healthcare workers are also a key consideration. Healthcare workers are a critical part of speedy patient recovery -where they also work under enormous pressure and strain. “Attention must be given to better understand healthcare workers’ procedural protocols and work functions, so that facilities and systems are designed to be easy to use and complimentary to the needs of healthcare workers,” says Nhlapo.
Further to this, Swanepoel indicates that while there is definite scope in emerging markets, including across Africa, for high-tech and high-performance hospitals that deliver state-of-the-art care, this should not be the sole focus. “A community thrives on a well-integrated social system, and healthcare facilities are often at the centre of this. Therefore, in remote and rural areas – particularly where even basic healthcare and/or medical services may be lacking - a more decentralised approach that can [bring] care to where the people are is needed.”
“This can be achieved through place-based wellness centres, which creates an opportunity to leverage a larger number of smaller facilities to deliver quality services and care across wider geographic areas,” says Swanepoel. “Whether a standalone facility in a remote area or an add-on to existing primary healthcare clinics within same complex, placed-based community wellness centres can be designed and constructed with modular units – making them inevitably flexible, adaptable and fit-for-purpose to the evolving needs of the communities they serve.”
Achieving universal health coverage – and within the targeted timeframes – that is also resilient and futureproofed will certainly be no small feat. A careful balance between environmental, economic and social sustainability will need to be incorporated into designs of future proofed facilities that not only aim to address a community’s current needs but is also cognisant of what their future needs are likely to be.
“As engineers, we must be strategic advisors to clients, thoughtful intermediaries for patients and healthcare workers, as well as technical creatives who are driven to find sustainable solutions. By adopting a nuanced approach to the medical and hospital facilities we are building we make a massive, positive impact on the delivery of health services that are suited to the communities they will serve – and thereby enable these communities to flourish and grow into well rounded societies,” concludes Nhlapo.
WSP Healthcare Advisory Services
We deliver a comprehensive range of advisory services to support our clients in all aspects of the funding, delivery and operation of healthcare estates. As a trusted partner to health care provider organisations around the world, we deliver a comprehensive range of advisory services to support our clients in all aspects of the funding, delivery and operation of healthcare estates.