BSA Lifestructures

The Trends Driving the Future of Healing Spaces

Tim Spence, AIA, ACHA, LEED AP BD+CMay 11, 2018

It’s hard to remember a time when we weren’t talking about changes in healthcare; it’s maybe even harder to remember a time when the changes came more quickly than in recent years. Driven by factors ranging from global medical advances to individual consumer expectations, and from reimbursement practices to nursing shortages, the healthcare world is constantly evolving.

At BSA, we’re working to ensure that we navigate through those changes with our clients by providing a design that doesn’t simply house their operations but that contribute to their success.

Following are a few trends that we see as integral to that challenge, and some thoughts on how we will address them.


With a variety of factors pushing down prices, providers must find new ways to trim costs and create value. While these efforts tend to focus on the delivery of care, design can play a role in creating spaces that support efficient service delivery, decreased energy consumption, reduced waste and more. Too often, built spaces are seen as cost consumers; we strive to make them cost reducers and value generators.



The idea of consumer-driven healthcare has been around for years, but it recently gained additional traction. Forced to pay more out of their own pockets, patients are acting more like consumers, comparing prices and services to choose the providers that deliver real value. At BSA, we’re working to help clients meet this challenge by creating spaces that engage healthcare recipients as customers and help to communicate healthcare brands throughout the patient experience.



Over the years, we have watched healthcare migrate from centralized, acute-care facilities to outpatient-focused systems that put services near patients rather than expecting patients to come to them. At the same time, we have seen technology—such as wearable fitness monitors and smartphone-based connections—change the way we capture and use healthcare data.

These and other trends point to a new future for healthcare’s built environment. We’re working to help clients embrace a landscape with fewer and smaller buildings dedicated to healthcare, more spaces that meet patients where they are, and an increased capability for data processing. We also expect to design more flexible spaces that allow for future adaptations.


Data and Artificial Intelligence

Speaking of data, with a recent survey revealing that nearly 40 percent of healthcare providers are investing in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics, we recognize that this must be a major consideration in design. But that doesn’t mean we simply build spaces for more technology. It means we recognize that data will become a standard in healthcare and that we must use technology and data to improve what we do. At BSA, we’re moving toward more data-driven design, working to build databases that help us create spaces that meet the needs of our clients.



I think this is one of the most important and transformative trends we’re seeing. The Greek word for salvation, sozo is used to mean healing that encompasses an individual’s physical, emotional, spiritual and mental well-being. It reflects an understanding of the need to consider the whole person in addressing healthcare concerns. For BSA, this plays to one of our core beliefs: We create spaces that contribute to the health of the entire person, not just places that address their injuries, diseases or medical conditions.



These days, everything must be measurable and driven by metrics. Fortunately, BSA has long been a leader in design metrics, recognizing the various ways that success is measured—from reduced readmissions and fewer hospital-acquired infections to better staff retention and lower energy costs—and capturing data that demonstrate our proficiency in creating a metric-driven design.

With changes coming at us fast and furious, we cannot say with any certainty what the healthcare landscape will look like in 10, 15 or 20 years. But we can say that it will look remarkably different from today’s landscape. And we can say that the built environment must contribute to positive change and help healthcare providers respond to change in ways that are beneficial to the people they serve.

In these times, healthcare providers and the design community that partners with them must anticipate change and chart the best course rather than simply reacting to change. If we do that, we’ll not only succeed as operations, but we’ll also succeed in delivering the kind of patient-centered care that Americans want and deserve.