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What makes a building functional? There are plenty of considerations, but for healthcare I believe it comes down to two key factors: affordability and adaptability. In plain terms: making the money work and preparing for change. Let’s start with affordability. This brings in both physical and human elements. The human aspects of affordability are centred around quicker recovery and reduced re-entry for those with health problems, and happier, healthier staff.

Both have a huge impact on cost and are affected by the buildings in which they receive or deliver care. The physical element is the effective performance of the built estate over its lifecycle, in terms of value and contribution to health outcomes. Whether for new build or refurbishment, through-life modelling of cost for capital investment, operation, maintenance and adaptation is essential.

Estate owners need to harness the potential of the digital revolution in design, construction and operation to reduce consumption and waste, cut risk and improve certainty; and provide for future change.

This leads into the next pressing requirement: adaptability. Energy and carbon, noise, air quality, vibration, fire resilience, and waste – they’re just some of the performance criteria tightened by regulation.

Add new healthcare technology, changing work practices and space uses, better employee health and welfare, and the only certainty is that tomorrow’s requirements won’t be the same as today’s.

New legislation, tougher standards, technological advances, social and economic trends and climate change are firmly on the radar. Estates and governments need to find ways of putting planning for adaptability at the centre of their strategy to accommodate changes over the horizon.

Get these two pillars in place, and health facilities can look forward to delivering enhanced outcomes in a resource-constrained world.

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