Inquiry: A dose of dialogue
With the vibrant Singapore cityscape as its backdrop, old colleagues reconnected and new friendships forged at the 6th Design & Health World Congress & Exhibition. Here, three participants reflect on the knowledge they gained, and look forward to the themes that may emerge at the 7th World Congress in Boston in 2011.
Alice Liang, principal, Montgomery Sisam
The media coverage of the H1N1 flu pandemic during the congress highlighted how our health and wellbeing are increasingly connected globally, reinforcing the value and relevance of this important international forum. This year’s congress was particularly outstanding in its rich and diverse program of presentations; the seamless organisation of events; and the well-structured process for the Academy Awards recognition.
For all participants, the international knowledge exchange was enriched by the full spectrum of topics ranging from the very current and pertinent debate on the PFI/PPP procurement process to the fascinating examination of operating room clothing.
There was stimulating discourse between the continuing research focus of evidence-based design and experience based observations. The greatest challenge of all, however, will be to ensure that the hospital administrators and financial stewards are also champions for design excellence. The need for greater global health partnership was echoed by the recognition for cultural sensitivities as we work with the developing countries in the world. One example discussed – a hospital in Malaysia where patients and families in the waiting areas were seated on rugs – highlighted the need for us to examine our common notion of waiting rooms.
One resounding message presented by many is the fast approaching global ‘grey tsunami’. There is a sense of urgency in addressing this phenomenon, as it will be the major contributor to the cost of care provision for our growing elderly population.
As we strive to create the best, healthiest environment in which to live, work and receive care, in a world of diminishing resources, the Design & Health continues to provide an inspiring platform for the sharing of valuable knowledge and experience.
George J Mann AIA, The Skaggs-Sprague Endowed Chair of Health Facilities Design Texas A&M University and Founder and Chairman The Resource Planning and Development Group
This year’s congress in Singapore was a resounding success. Through the scientific papers presented, the Design & Health International Academy Awards, study tours, exhibit and poster presentations, it addressed the broad and rapidly changing context of the trends and issues facing global healthcare design today.
Looking forward to the 7th Design & Health World Congress in Boston in 2011, the US will by this time have hopefully enacted significant legislation for a Universal Insurance Program. Perhaps in 2011 we can also pay more attention to the basic guiding principles of quality, access and cost, which will no doubt be major considerations in any universal health legislative program in the US, as well as an objective for the population of the planet as a whole.
It is critical for the success of 2011 that we address the broader complex health issues facing our finite planet as a whole, including poverty, air and water quality, nutrition, habitat, environmental health issues, renewable energy sources, communication and education, economic opportunity, sustainable development, healthy cities, transportation and an ageing population.
We cannot (and must not be perceived as wanting to) add more and more expensive health facilities that are financially inaccessible to the vast majority of the earth’s growing population, and financially impossible to operate. It is also critical to delve further into the complex issues of health in the developing countries of the world, recognise an interdependence with the developed world, and encourage their participation in Boston 2011.
Dr Abd Rahim Mohamad MBChB(Alex), MScPH(S’pore), MPH(Boston), director, Planning & Development Division, Ministry of Health Malaysia
As a first timer, this year’s congress exposed me to an immense wealth of information on the need to base better hospital planning on evidence-based design analysis.
The spirit of sharing the information for the sole purpose of building better healthcare facilities for future generations is highly valuable. The concept of ICUs built by taking care of the infl uence of the environment to facilitate recuperation, for example, offered an alternative perspective to the current concept that ICUs should be isolated with no windows for patients and staff to enjoy the outside world.
Having said that, I believe that more medical planners from the medical profession should attend this event alongside the building architects and engineers. It will mean that more inputs can be shared and more ideas generated for the betterment of the concept of healthcare in this century.
I also learnt that healthcare design is a living movement. The size of operating theatres, wards and rooms evolve with time, based on facilities, high-tech equipment and types of procedures. Arts, creativity and community participation also has a great influence on the course of patients’ recovery. The wellbeing of patients and staff mood is influenced by the environment and of the caring attitude of the caregivers.
The significant attention paid to health economics, which is as a key component of any healthcare service and design philosophy, also ensured the congress offered a complete course of continuous professional development to many of us who attended.