Ravideep Singh is the Associate Director at Creative Designer Architects, a New Delhi based architecture firm that has helmed notable projects of diverse typologies across Asia. An alumnus of the University of Illinois U.C, School of Architecture, he has earned a specialization in ‘Healthcare Planning’ from Cornell University, NY. With a penchant for designing spaces that foster health and wellness, Singh has over four years of experience in healthcare design in India and the United States, working with internationally renowned practices like HDR, HKS, and RSP Architects. At CDA, he has conceptualized several award-winning projects including AIIMS Guwahati, Pragma Medical Institute at Bathinda amongst others.
- How is behavioural health impacting healthcare design?
Today, designing for Behavioural Health is no longer confined to facilities catering to patients with mental health disorders alone. As we become more culturally liberal and let go of the social stigmas associated with mental health, there is a growing awareness, acknowledgement and acceptance of behavioural health disorders as normal, treatable conditions. Healthcare planners have also started to adopt planning strategies and design elements that are particularly effective in responding to patients with even some degree of behavioural health disorder. Consequently, we have witnessed a rational shift in healthcare design wherein we emphasise how design strategies and elements work and interact with the users rather than only how they appear.
Moreover, the World Health Organization’s data suggests that one in every five individuals in India suffers from some sort of mental health disorder. Evidence also shows that patients in clinical settings have increased susceptibility to mental health disorders, due to increased stress induced in the clinical setting.
Healthcare architects and designers have now begun to acknowledge behavioural health as a crucial component of one’s overall health. Hence, the planning of hospitals is seamlessly driven by a ‘patient and care-giver’ centric approach which attempts to reduce stress by designing departments, waiting areas that offer a certain degree of flexibility for privacy and interaction, ergonomic variability and acoustic comfort. Positive distractions through abundant natural light, art and biophilia are also being considered to improve patient health. Architects and designers are also creating family areas wherever possible to keep loved ones close to the patients.
- What are the innovations you have integrated into your designs in recent years?
Healthcare design, in general, is highly susceptible to modifications and paradigm shifts. Once conceived as a complex whole of medical departments, healthcare design today thrives as a domain with an enormous potential to innovate, hypothesize and experiment – all to tackle some pressing issues for the healthcare industry worldwide. Some of these include rising costs, massive capital investments, healthcare consumerism and most recently, the need for flexibility and resilience for unprecedented outbreaks and epidemics.
At CDA, we strongly believe in the altruistic potential of design and acknowledge its impact on its users, especially the patients. Consequently, planning at CDA is driven by a patient-centric approach and governed by evidence-based design strategies for better outcomes pertaining to areas such as patient safety, patient experience, recovery rates, staff satisfaction, medical error reduction etc.
More recently, we have also been responsive in terms of building resilience in hospital designs. The resilient designs will allow hospitals to factor for the influx in the number of beds based on need and even let the departments grow in size based on pre-planned scenarios.
- What are the factors you consider to elevate patient experience?
With several Evidence-based studies available to suggest positive impacts on patients as a result of enhanced patient experience, a patient-centric approach is what drives healthcare design at CDA. The most appropriate way to elevate patient experience lies in neuroscience, where it is imperative to understand a patient’s state of mind, which is generally susceptible to high degrees of stress-induced due to factors like the anxiety of treatment, invasion of privacy, separation from loved ones, poor acoustics, etc. We strive to mitigate these by introducing positive distractions such as — scenic views to outside, abundant daylighting, specific colours and biophilic-themed artwork, and access to safe courtyards and nature-centric outdoor spaces. Most importantly, flexibility and choice help patients gain a certain degree of control over what is assumed to be taken away for patients in a hospital. Small design interventions such as public and private waiting areas, flexibility to sit on high or lounge seating etc., have shown to elevate the patient experience positively.
- How has your journey been in healthcare infrastructure? Where did you start, and how is it going now?
The journey in healthcare design has been that of a purposeful continuation of CDA’s two-decade-long quest in understanding and innovating healthcare design in India. Initiated by Maninder Kaur and Mohanbir Singh in 2001 – CDA’s healthcare expertise and the portfolio have constantly grown multi-fold, getting to grips with newer challenges, typologies, geographies and scales. Delving into every healthcare project is consciously rewarding with always an opportunity to make healthcare more accessible, equitable and fun for its end users.
- How do you prepare hospitals for surges in cases, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic?
While hospitals across the country crumbled under the pressure of the first two waves of the pandemic, the interventions of healthcare architects and designers are crucial to curate resilient hospitals of the future. At CDA, we believe that a few fundamental changes in our approach to healthcare design would allow healthcare facilities to better factor for surge while taking the healing potential of the hospitals notches up. Essentially, what we’ve begun to do is to plan for flexibility and reconfiguration in departments so that they can be seamlessly elaborated or repurposed based on demand.
Further, post-covid, there is a need to meticulously plan for isolation and infection control through strategies such as creating a forward triage along with a scenario-based segregation of infectious and non-infectious zones within the facility. Pre-planning these zones will allow for easy implementation and execution of workflows in any scenario, thereby equipping the hospital to adapt and respond promptly and effectively. Additionally, it is vital to select the correct type of mechanical equipment and air filtration systems used in the infectious and non-infectious areas to prevent the spread of viral infections.
- What is the future of healthcare in terms of infrastructure?
The future of healthcare, like most other industries, is digital. Healthcare futurists and researchers are now focused on orienting the healthcare system towards a physically disintegrated and digitally seamless care delivery model. The future of healthcare will collaborate with IoT, make the best use of rapidly changing technology, and manifest into an efficient model that is less susceptible to untimely collapse, claim researchers. Employing tools like Big Data and Artificial Intelligence will allow healthcare professionals and designers to comprehend patterns out of the already existing profiles of patients and put them to use for creating dynamic design layouts for hospitals that are reconfigurable. With the help of technology and the growing acceptance of digital interactions, patients’ health will soon be monitored by smart infrastructure remotely by doctors and nurses.
Significant strides in the research and development of these schemes are underway, and the future is promising. The involvement of tech giants is also anticipated in the years to come. With a commitment to improving the healthcare scenario in India, we at CDA are optimistic that with architects working in partnership with doctors, researchers and tech giants, an evolved healthcare ecosystem awaits.