Future-proof healthcare properties: user-oriented and sustainable

The healthcare sector is changing and with it the healthcare property. Project management and property consultancy Drees & Sommer notices that healthcare is increasingly taking place at home: for as long and as much as possible. Esther Akkerman-Dwars, Sector Leader Healthcare, sees a clear shift from ‘Cure’ to ‘Care’. “As a result, we also have to look differently at our homes, residential environment, health centers and hospitals.”

“The homes and the way we handle them are changing. Our user-oriented approach is also very suitable for healthcare properties. If you design the home based on the needs of the users, you immediately create a more sustainable property.”

“Care and even complex medical procedures are increasingly taking place in their own home environment,” says Akkerman. “Some treatment for chronic diseases is increasingly given at home, and often you can recover from an operation at home because the recovery can be monitored remotely. The corona era has accelerated this development: A patient did not go to a general practitioner or specialist for a consultation, but received a teleconsultation from home. This has implications for healthcare properties, on technology and also on physical development. We are exploring worldwide how we can handle real estate, space, materials and raw materials as efficiently as possible, but also with labour. Technology is inextricably linked to the proper functioning of real estate and public housing. And can significantly simplify the experience of well-being for many user groups.”

New housing and care concepts
“There is a need for new housing and care concepts, where digitization, sustainability and an optimal user experience are integrated,” concludes Akkerman. New concepts also require different working methods from the users; it is also a point of attention for now and in the future. “What is so great,” she says, “is that on the one hand the predecessors of Drees & Sommer Holland have built up thirty years of experience in Building Performance, including healthcare properties, and on the other hand there is a great deal of expertise within fitness.out. Then there is the combination of international expertise and local knowledge of markets and legislation and regulations. All in all, a perfect mix to completely relieve our customers in the realization of future-proof care homes. We take the customer on a customer journey, prepares a user-oriented, tailored concept and then keeps track of it all, so that the basic principles are also ensured in the realization.”

Building a building ‘just like that’ or remodeling an existing building is no longer an option. Before anything has even been drawn, designed or built, we enter into a dialogue with the users to get a clear picture of an organization and the suitable accommodation, and we gather insights from all perspectives.

Future-proof real estate
Drees & Sommer works according to a sector-oriented approach. Healthcare is one of the sectors where the organization is strong. The care experts take a closer look at other sectors to also identify trends and developments there and are inspired by the services of the various business areas. User Experience (UX) for example. Akkerman: “This user-oriented working method is often used in office environments. But we can make new and existing healthcare properties future-proof if we focus on the needs of the users. When you can design your home based on research, knowledge of the market and developments in that market and build on possible future situations, so flexibly, it also ensures sustainability.”

User-oriented development
Salla Lardot, UX Specialist at Drees & Sommer Holland: “UX is an opportunity for e.g. healthcare properties. In our view, user, experience and building are inextricably linked. Building a building ‘just like that’ or remodeling an existing building is no longer an option. Before anything has even been drawn, designed or built, we enter into a dialogue with the users to get a clear picture of an organization and the suitable accommodation, and we gather insights from all perspectives. We research how users will use a building in the future, delve into user profiles and ask them about their experiences and ambitions. In our UX methodology, we let these users take a journey. I am talking about users, because it concerns both the residents and the staff. Each of these user groups has different goals, needs, motivations and dreams.”

Cost effective
With UX, healthcare institutions get a better grasp of and insight into where and how to invest. This ensures that every euro is put in its rightful place, say the two real estate specialists. “You realize a user-validated concept before it is built. And in the end, real estate that, even in the long term, perfectly matches or can easily be adapted to the needs of the users,” says Akkerman. Lardot adds: “It takes more time, that is, because we want an answer to the ‘why’ question before we start this requirements program. You formulate your strategic principles: vision, mission and goals. Sustainable real estate will most likely be one of the goals. The word sustainable too often refers to energy efficiency, but it also refers to future-proofing for users.”

More quality through technology
Personnel issues are also a point of attention in the development of the healthcare properties of the future. And with that the role of technology, or connected UX. To what extent can technology contribute as one of the solutions to overcome the staff shortage? Lardot: “In our view, people and the user experience are also central here. The trick is to examine which processes can be replaced by technology to free up time for customized care, or care of physical persons, tailored to the customer’s needs. I am thinking of signaling and alarming and a more efficient organization of administrative processes. All ‘connected’ using a power rail where data can be shared with the different systems. The technology can really help to insert physical care where it is most needed.” (The text continues below the image.)

Strategic housing
UX is excellent to use in strategic housing plans. With the user-oriented approach, you bring drivers and users along, and you learn what to do with the existing property. “By asking the right questions in advance, you can translate it correctly and the concept of sustainability takes on much more depth. It is highly recommended to use UX methods to make real estate future-proof,” says Akkerman.

Business card
But there is also another facet: identity. Healthcare institutions have become brands, with a brand value that is partly determined by the environment they work in. It is also important for healthcare to be a strong brand because, like business, they have a war for talent deals with the recruitment of qualified employees. They want to carry out their work in an optimal environment, and the board will have to think about that, because the competition is enormous. The built environment must facilitate your care vision and reflect the institution’s identity. A building where the users are central is an attractive working environment. It is the ultimate business card.”

Photo from left to right Esther Akkerman-Dwars and Salla Lardot.

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