Top Takeaways from IHEEM 2023 Healthcare Estates Conference: Insights into Healthcare Design and Development

Top Takeaways from IHEEM 2023 Healthcare Estates Conference: Insights into Healthcare Design and Development

The recent IHEEM 2023 (Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Estate Management) Conference, held in Manchester, was a gathering of healthcare professionals, architects, engineers, and industry experts.

It provided a platform for sharing cutting-edge insights and innovations in healthcare design and development.

Among the attendees, James Barnes and April Marsden represented Bowman Riley. Here, James explores the top takeaways from the conference, each highlighting key themes and trends that will shape the future of healthcare infrastructure.

Carbon Reduction and Sustainability

The theme of sustainability ran through all seminars and discussions at the conference. The importance of reusing existing buildings and ensuring their future-proofing was emphasised. Utilising flexible frame construction and internal panels, along with adopting Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) toolkits, helps create sustainable healthcare facilities.

Improving the standardisation of components can reduce waste significantly. Astonishingly, it was revealed that the average skip on a hospital project site could contain up to £2,000 worth of wasted materials.

The Rise of Digitalisation

Digitalisation is transforming healthcare design, and the conference highlighted the trend of digital twinning, creating digital versions of new hospital buildings. This technological leap enables architects and planners to incorporate AI into hospital design, promising improvements in energy management. The use of digital twinning allows consultants to better understand the effect of physical changes to the building prior to their implementation. Academics from Glasgow Caledonian University stated that digital analysis of healthcare estates could highlight energy savings, the equivalent of up to 40% in operational energy, contributing to sustainability and cost-effectiveness.

Early Contractor Involvement

While not a new concept in the construction industry, early contractor involvement took on greater significance, especially under the P23 procurement framework. This approach helps avoid changes and wastage, promoting greater build efficiency. It fosters collaboration between all stakeholders, leading to well-planned projects that minimise programme delays and reduce wastage.

Different Approaches to Healthcare Design and Development

One of the prominent themes that emerged from the conference was the diverse approaches to healthcare design and development in the devolved nations of the United Kingdom. Attendees observed that Scotland’s approach was notably collaborative and supportive, with NHS Trusts receiving valuable assistance from Scotland Assure. This collaborative model fosters knowledge sharing and ensures a unified, patient-centred approach to healthcare infrastructure development.

Hospital 2.0

The New Hospital Programme (Hospital 2.0), which aims to construct 40 new hospitals by 2030, has been amended to prioritise a number of hospitals affected by RAAC. Hospital 2.0 takes learning from existing health infrastructure and uses demand and capacity modelling to provide the right hospital at the right size with the right facilities. The Programme aims to reduce the timescales of a traditional hospital build by 30%.  Although the 2030 deadline looks remarkably tight, the Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) heading up the New Hospital Programme gave a positive outlook.


IHEEM 2023 Conference provided a valuable platform for industry professionals to exchange insights and innovations in healthcare design and development.

The key takeaways were the rise of digitalisation, the emphasis on early contractor involvement, the diverse approaches from the devolved nations, the update and alteration in the scope of Hospital 2.0, and the overarching theme of carbon reduction and sustainability.

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