In this article, we take a look at how smart technology is being utilised by the construction industry to create the healthcare buildings of the future
The further forward we go with technology and construction, the more the world begins to look more akin to science fiction.
We’re already seeing innovations, from autonomous cherry pickers on construction sites, to buildings that log their own maintenance work on record.
It may well be a few years before we’re all heading to work on hoverboards, but amazing innovations are coming over the horizon.
And this is particularly true for the healthcare sector and its relationship with construction.
Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology, or ‘smart technology’ as it’s more commonly referred, is transforming the construction industry.
Smart technology comes into its own when applied to the healthcare sector, as it is built around connectivity and analytics that are perfect for hospitals and care homes.
Smart technology will allow our infrastructure to reach dizzying new heights, as we embrace a whole new ‘smart’ way of living
This valuable information can be linked up from one device to another, sharing details on a device-wearer’s location and condition.
According to Omdia, the demand for inter-connected equipment used by smart technology is set to increase faster within the healthcare sector than the market average.
This growth has been attributed not only to the needs of an ageing population, but to the overall increase in new projects following the Government’s announcement of a massive increase in capital spend on the NHS estate.
“Technology that can help to predict and prevent issues within a hospital or care home is, after all, universally beneficial to both healthcare workers and patients,”
“Of course, with an ageing population comes more people in need of health support and assistance. This means an increased turnover in hospital stock and resources – something that smart technology can also help with.”
Smart buildings are characterised by their use of the Internet of Things which, in the case of hospitals, can help monitor where stock is, what levels of stock remain, and even order in much-needed resources.
“The main benefit of smart buildings in the healthcare sector would be simple efficiency”, said Omdia's Kealy-Roberts.
Smart buildings are designed around the ideas of comfort and wellbeing, with a focus on people’s contentment
“With the building itself theoretically able to manage several administration tasks, such as identifying a patient’s basic needs and scheduling appointments, healthcare professionals can dedicate more time to the human element of care than cannot be replaced.”
But, beyond taking care of aspects behind the scenes, smart hospitals also work alongside doctors and nurses to improve the standard of patient care all round.
And, by collating multiple data points, smart buildings will essentially become another member of the medical team.
“Imagine a building that could react to its residents, slightly alter itself to suit your every need, and do all this without even the flick of a switch,” said Kealy-Roberts.
“Smart technology has already made this possible.
“Within smart buildings, a specifically-designed wearable device can transmit information to, and from, the building and make adjustments according to your needs.
” Smart buildings are designed around the ideas of comfort and wellbeing, with a focus on people’s contentment.
“If, for example, you started to feel a little too hot, your wearable would transmit this message to the air conditioning system, and it would adjust the temperature for you.”
With the building itself theoretically able to manage several administration tasks, healthcare professionals can dedicate more time to the human element of care than cannot be replace
However, there are complications to this design of course.
For instance, how can one building react to the needs of each and every person within it?
One option is to take an average reading for each inhabitant and create a reactive ‘average’ atmosphere.
Or, alternatively, highly-accurate sensors could be installed that are able to locate and react to specific individuals accurately.
Kealy-Roberts said: “The future for the construction industry is certainly bright and beginning to mirror everything sci-fi envisioned.
“This makes for exciting new horizons for healthcare.
“Smart technology will allow our infrastructure to reach dizzying new heights, as we embrace a whole new ‘smart’ way of living.”