One of the biggest challenges faced by the medical industry is how to accommodate health care demands as the population ages. In the U.S. alone, medical service needs are expected to increase by 25 per cent over the next decade. This is one of the reality checks NXT Health, a non-profit organization that promotes design innovation in the industry, wanted to address when it set out to build a hospital room of the future, dubbed Patient Room 2020. Now realized and installed at the DuPont Corian Design Studio in New York, the holistic model suite brings together products by 40 leading manufacturers invested in high-tech innovations, from the quiet-flow toilet by Grohe to Milliken’s anti-microbial fabrics.
The 37-square-metre, clutter-free space looks decidedly futuristic, with its all-white Corian walls and rounded corners, but the goal was not to recreate Star Trek. Fewer corners mean less dirt and dust buildup and, in turn, less chance of spreading hospital-acquired infections. The rubber floor, by Dalsouple, helps to absorb shock if a patient falls, and a halo light box by Barrisol casts a soothing therapeutic glow above the bed. At night, grab bars are illuminated, courtesy of Osram / Sylvania, to help patients move safely between the bed and the washroom.
Various accessories are concealed at the caregiver station, including washing indicator lights to let staff know that their hands have been cleaned thoroughly, and built-in technology for tracking patient information. Patient Room 2020, developed as a concept in 2009 and turned into a reality by NXT Health co-director David Ruthven four years later, is giving architects a chance to experience first-hand a cohesive system rather than just parts. Until 2016, the room is viewable by appointment at DuPont Corian Design Studio.