How to Design Real Estate That Supports Telehealth Services in Residential Areas?

April 4, 2024

Telehealth services are rapidly taking center stage in the healthcare industry. They allow providers to extend their reach beyond the traditional hospital or clinic settings, offering patients in urban and rural areas alike access to medical services from the comfort of their homes. As these services become increasingly mainstream, there is a pressing need for the design of residential real estate to adapt and support this shift.

This article explores how real estate developers can design residential properties that facilitate the integration of telehealth services. We will examine key design considerations that would ensure easy access to medical services via telehealth for all residents.

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Incorporating High-Speed Internet Infrastructure

Telehealth services are fundamentally dependent on high-speed, reliable internet connections. Patients and healthcare providers need a robust and stable internet connection to hold virtual consultations, share medical records, and even perform remote monitoring. Therefore, internet connectivity forms the backbone of telehealth services and should be a fundamental consideration in the design of residential real estate to support these services.

Developers need to ensure that properties have access to high-speed broadband or fiber-optic internet services. Design plans should include the necessary conduits and spaces to accommodate the installation and maintenance of these broadband networks. Equally critical is ensuring that Wi-Fi signals are strong throughout the property, so residents can access healthcare services from any room in their homes.

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Designing Specialized Spaces for Telehealth

While telehealth services can technically be availed from anywhere in a home, the creation of dedicated spaces for such consultations can greatly enhance the experience. Such areas should be designed keeping in mind the need for privacy, comfort, and functionality.

A dedicated telemedicine room could include a desk for a laptop or PC, comfortable seating, good lighting, and perhaps even a basic set of medical equipment (like BP monitors, glucose meters, etc.), if the resident needs to perform self-tests as part of their consultation. The room should be soundproof to ensure confidentiality and have a door that can be locked for added privacy.

Ensuring Accessible and User-Friendly Design

Telehealth services are particularly beneficial to elderly patients or those with mobility limitations as they do not have to travel to a hospital or clinic. To make the most of these benefits, residential areas should be designed with accessibility in mind.

Design elements could include ramps for wheelchairs, wide corridors and doors for easy maneuvering, non-slip flooring, and easy-to-reach shelves and cabinets. The design should also consider the needs of visually or hearing-impaired residents, for instance, by including visual alarms and doorbells or tactile indicators on controls and switches.

Integrating Smart Home Technology

Smart home technology can be a powerful ally in supporting telehealth services. From video doorbells that can allow healthcare providers to check in on patients without physically entering their homes, to smart devices that monitor vital signs and send alerts in case of anomalies – the possibilities are immense.

Designing residential real estate to support such technology involves the integration of smart devices into the building’s infrastructure. This could include pre-installed devices like smart thermostats and sensors, or provision for residents to install their own devices as needed.

Prioritizing Patient Comfort and Convenience

Finally, while the functional aspects of supporting telehealth services are crucial, it is equally important to consider the comfort and convenience of residents. Design elements should be aesthetically pleasing and create a calming environment that helps patients feel at ease during their virtual consultations.

This could involve using natural light and calming colors, providing ample space for relaxation and recreation, and integrating nature into the built environment through elements like indoor plants or outdoor gardens.

In conclusion, designing real estate that supports telehealth services is a multi-faceted task that involves meeting technological, functional, and aesthetic requirements. By addressing these needs, developers can create residential spaces that truly support the health and well-being of their residents.

Integrating Telemedicine Apps in Property Design

The rise of telehealth services has been accompanied by a surge in the development of telemedicine apps. These applications serve as platforms that connect patients and healthcare providers, facilitating virtual consultations, exchange of medical records, remote patient monitoring, and more. To effectively support these services, it is crucial to consider the integration of such apps in the design of residential real estate.

One aspect to consider is the home technology infrastructure. Modern homes need to support the use of smartphones, tablets, and computers that run these apps. For instance, homes should have enough power outlets in convenient locations for charging electronic devices. The technology infrastructure should also support the use of wearables and other devices that transmit health data to the telemedicine app in real-time.

Moreover, considering the demographic trend of an increasing aging population, it is essential to design residential areas keeping in mind the ease of use for older adults. This could involve incorporating features to enhance the usability of these apps, such as large, clear screens, simple user interfaces, and voice recognition technology.

Lastly, real estate developers need to work closely with healthcare facilities and technology providers to understand the specific requirements of these apps. This collaboration can help to create a design that optimally supports the functionality of the telemedicine apps, thereby enhancing the delivery of healthcare services in the home setting.

##The Impact of the COVID Pandemic on Telehealth Services and Real Estate Design

The COVID pandemic has accelerated the adoption of telehealth services, as social distancing norms and fear of infection have made virtual health consultations a preferred choice for many. This shift has implications for the design of residential real estate, as homes are increasingly becoming the new healthcare facilities.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for homes to have dedicated spaces for telehealth consultations. As people have to work, study, and receive healthcare services all from home, the need for multi-functional spaces has become evident. These spaces need to accommodate a variety of needs, from ensuring privacy for virtual consultations to providing a suitable backdrop for professional video calls.

Furthermore, the pandemic has emphasized the importance of universal design principles in residential real estate. Universal design aims to create environments that are accessible, safe, and usable by all people, regardless of age, ability, or status in life. This principle is critical in the design of homes that support telehealth services, as they need to cater to a diverse range of users.

In conclusion, the COVID pandemic has underscored the importance of designing homes that can effectively support telehealth services. It has highlighted the need for flexible, multi-use spaces, high-speed internet connectivity, accessible design, and integration of telemedicine apps. By addressing these requirements, real estate developers can help to build a healthcare system that is resilient to future pandemic scenarios and supports the delivery of quality care to all.

Conclusion

Designing real estate that supports telehealth services is not a one-size-fits-all task. It requires a comprehensive understanding of the needs and preferences of potential residents, the technological requirements of telehealth services, and the specificities of the local context. Despite the challenges, the potential rewards are immense. With the right design, residential real estate can contribute to the delivery of accessible, efficient, and quality care, particularly in rural areas where healthcare services are often scarce. As the COVID pandemic has shown, the ability to receive healthcare services from home is not just a luxury, but a necessity for many. By integrating telehealth considerations into the design of residential real estate, developers can contribute to building a resilient healthcare system that serves the needs of all residents, now and in the future.