At the start of the design process, two of the very best things you and your staff can do is; 1) to tour other healthcare facilities that have similarities to your future hospital and 2) build mock-up’s of those rooms that will be repeated in your facility, are highly technical, or are undergoing significant changes in workflow processes; for example, patient rooms, ED exam rooms, trauma rooms, clinic exam rooms, procedure rooms, ORs, PACU head walls, and pre-post rooms/recovery rooms. One might also consider areas such as nursing cores, work stations, or touch down areas if they will be significantly different spaces than your staff is used to in your existing facility.
In this post, we will focus on the value and type of mock up rooms. The earlier the mock up rooms can be built in the design process, the better. So start looking early for space where the staff can have easy access and where the mock up rooms can stay standing during the design process, so refinements can continue to be made. It is important to document with notes and photos for future reference. Many healthcare organizations have taken the mock up rooms to the next stage by having actual simulations in the room. The healthcare staff determines the most repeated procedures and simulate them, including equipment, furniture, technology and supplies.
The level of “finish” of mock up rooms can vary from very basic; foam board walls, cabinetry, wall mounted items drawn on the wall to rooms that are finished out like the real room. The costs vary considerably, but whichever route your organization chooses, you will receive much greater value than you invested in building the room.
The benefits of a mockup:
- Rooms to be Duplicated – To make sure you get a room exactly how you want it before it is duplicated in construction a number of times, this is certainly beneficial the more repetition you have.
- Confirm the Room Size – We were asked to reduce the space program to align with the budget. As we worked through Design Development, we were testing the proposed size against the simulated processes by the staff, including cabinetry, equipment and furniture. If the room size needs to be changed, then this is the stage where you should catch it.
- Confirm the Room Layout – The hospital staff in many cases may find it difficult to understand floor plans. Building a mock up rooms brings the scale, access, spatial relationships and “fit” of the room much clearer to everyone.
- Confirm power, switching, med gases and equipment locations – This is an added benefit at this stage. The users can do simulations to nail down exactly where these items need to be mounted. Yes, we can do this in the construction phase, but if these items have been located in the building under construction and the staff wants to change something, it could impact the schedule as well as costs if there are significant changes in the field.
- Constructability Issues – Mock up rooms also allow the ability of the proposed design to be tested for constructability by the contractor. The designers can learn about potential design complexities and conflicts, so they can be modified and corrected in the drawings before the real rooms are built, saving potential change orders down the road.
- Practice Simulations- Have the staff simulate procedures and care routines. This is also a time to have a Lean Planner involved, who can reduce steps, improve safety, and reduce the physical awkwardness for nurses and other staff while caring for a patient.
Physical mock-ups of a project’s most complex and repetitive spaces allow the staff, designers and builder to quickly analyze design alternatives, save time, reduce risk, and solve design and constructability issues prior to the start of construction. Room mock ups also allow the owner to ensure the best possible layout and space utilization. Room mock ups allows form a physical evaluation of a room to ensure it is the right answer by saving time, money, waste and aggravation.