Virtual Tools in Healthcare Design

Hospitals and healthcare organizations are eager to keep their strategic priorities moving forward despite the need for social distancing, and the public health responsibility we have to continue working at home. In response to our clients’ needs, HCM has deployed a wide range of tools to ensure continued project momentum and successes, while working within guidance from health organizations, federal, state and local authorities.

We have augmented our existing project management by holding virtual meetings, using secured shared communication platforms, leading digital client discovery and charette exercises, using video guided virtual mock-ups, and 3D design fly throughs. These examples of some of our tools and technology have kept our projects moving forward, in consideration of schedules and budgets.

Our projects begin with deep discovery, a data and information rich state, to gain insight into our client’s current state. The HCM team had already streamlined this process with two online tools. Secured, on-line surveys allow us to collect real time responses of qualitative and quantitative information. This format respects stakeholders’ valuable time and allows for organizations to determine the level of anonymity, the necessary respondants and the questions that should be required. Collected data can then be exported into excel and represented numerically or graphically.

Another invaluable tool our design teams use is 3D photographic scans of the spaces. The Matterport camera allows us to capture a 360-degree photograph from numerous vantage points that seam together to create an immersive digital experience of the space. This can be achieved with just one individual, replacing the need for a group to physically walk through and evaluate a space. This information is uploaded to the cloud so that anyone with the link can at any time virtually move through the space. This allows for real insight into current state spaces, and equipment and resources, which can be examined for deficiencies and opportunities in future state development. This technology lends itself to unlimited access to a detailed 3D view and inventory of the space throughout the life of the project.


Our design thinking and lean design process engages stakeholders from project initiation through design development. Our interactive workshops have been delivered with the same methodology; however we have employed more interactive video meetings that allow for multidisciplinary participation while still social distancing, and our future state planning that is normally done in interactive workshops, using tactile tools and models, is now delivered in an electronic versions that is offered to the client in PDF format. We facilitate schematic design discussions, creating progressive designs based on guiding and lean principles.

All instruction, facilitation, and designs developed can be done in real time, and are easily shared using communication platforms such as Zoom, WebEx, Miro, etc.

The tools we use reach well beyond the initial phases of information gathering, operational understanding and schematic design. In design development, we use visualization tools to create future state renderings of the new space. Enscape allows the design team and key stakeholders to walk through the space much like the photographic 3D scans do of an existing space. This process also allows us to compare different materials and finishes with the client to gather feedback and meet their design needs. The future state 3D walk-throughs happen both on video conference calls as a group, and individually via scan codes or web links. Using QR codes linked to our rendering, clients can access the 3D view of the space via their smart phones.

Our clients are actively engaged and remain energized and excited that the tools, and technology have supported their ability to participate as well as progress with projects despite social distancing.

The design teams at HCM have created proven solutions and are ready to adapt to challenges that are presented during COVID-19 and beyond, steadily learning new ways to maximize the type and myriad of tools at our fingertips.

Designing healthcare environments is one of our passions. We specialize in master planning, programming, and design for care-givers, patients and their families and work for community hospitals, academic medical institutions, and stand-alone medical facilities. To learn more, contact

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