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Designing Spaces that Treat and Heal

Recently, global design firm Perkins Eastman announced the appointment of C. Carson Shearon, as the new Principal and Director of International Healthcare at Perkins Eastman. Shearon brings with him nearly 25 years’ experience in the health industry, and he capitalises on his multi-disciplinary training in the medical sciences and architecture to partner with clients in multiple cultures and marketplaces. In fact, he is passionate about implementing efficient and sustainable design solutions that respond to the aspirations of patients, families, clinical caregivers, and clients. 

In an interview with Arab Health Magazine, Shearon talks about his new role, his thoughts on the GCC’s healthcare construction industry, as well as his vision for the future. Excerpts from the interview:

Tell us about yourself. How did you venture into the healthcare design industry?
Throughout my childhood in California, I would frequently visit my grandfather in the hospital. During his final admission I remember being struck by how much he and his room transformed when my grandmother brought him a colourful blanket, pictures, and an overstuffed chair. I guess I have always been fascinated by how environments influence experiences. I feel that when it comes to hospitals, the place where so many people begin and conclude life, as designers, we can create better suited environments. 

I completed my post-baccalaureate studies in biomedical science and architecture; combining these two passions naturally led me to healthcare design. I have concentrated my career on developing shared understandings and adroitly managing complex healthcare engagements in multiple cultures. I have partnered with healthcare clients in 18 countries. From Iceland to India, it is critical to understand how regional healthcare delivery paradigms and contextual cultural practices influence the translation of global best practices and design. I have developed dedicated healthcare design teams in the GCC and across the globe and enjoy traveling internationally nearly every month to engage existing and new target clients. I represent the firm at global healthcare conferences as well as industry speaking and teaching engagements. Recently, I was appointed to the Architecture Advisory Board at the American University in Dubai.

What are your thoughts on the GCC’s healthcare construction industry? According to you, how can hospital construction processes be improved? What are some of the important factors to consider when designing a hospital?
Increasing capacity to meet the demand for inpatient and ambulatory services continue to drive the healthcare industry in the GCC. The healthcare facilities of tomorrow embody global best practices to focus on user experience, clinical outcomes, growth, fiscal stewardship, operational efficiency and brand recognition. Currently, the industry is challenged to push seamless collaboration throughout project delivery. A collaborative approach increases value, reduces waste, and maximises efficiency within all phases of the project. Successful delivery of healthcare facilities requires transparent processes that align users, stakeholders, operators, systems, business structures, and clinical protocols from visioning through design, construction, and operation. Specifically, in the GCC, it is critical to think of design as an alliance that addresses user experience, patient outcomes, talent recruitment and retention, cultural clinical care delivery paradigms, owner and operator expectations, efficient and standardised processes, as well as brand development.

What are some of the latest trends in hospital design? What types of technological developments will have an impact on hospital design in the near future? 
The healthcare industry is evolving beyond solely the acute care of illness and injury. Digital technology is transforming the healthcare experience to respond to a “customers first” philosophy. Today’s healthcare consumers seek an active partnership with their providers that offer personalised and convenient options to address wellness, disease prevention, and chronic management. Consumers seek walk-in visits, no waiting or registration, kiosk check-in, online scheduling, virtual visits, direct messaging with providers, and self-monitoring and self-management of personal health. In the GCC, the demand for Concierge Medicine is rapidly increasing.

Tell us about your new role, its challenging aspects, and your vision for Perkins Eastman.
As a healthcare leader at Perkins Eastman, one of my primary objectives is to grow the firm’s international portfolio of healthcare clients, specifically in MENA, India and China. We focus on developing strong client bases in these regions and implementing business practices that enable international resources to operate successfully in these countries from the firm’s 17 office locations. Strategically, I enjoy establishing firm direction for near- and long-term goals that elevate the Perkins Eastman healthcare brand internationally. This includes the development of high-performance teams poised to deliver global thought leadership to clients worldwide. Perkins Eastman is a global design firm founded on the belief that design can have a direct and positive impact on people’s lives. By keeping the user’s needs foremost in the design process, the firm enhances the human experience in the places where people live, work, play, learn, age, and heal.

Discussing Strategic Approaches at Building Healthcare
Shearon shares: “This will be the eighth year I am participating in the Building Healthcare Innovation & Design Show in Dubai. Each year I am impressed with the conference’s increasing calibre of contributors and content. I’m honoured to be speaking at this year’s conference themed “Delivering Fit-for-Purpose Healthcare Facilities”. The big picture objective is addressing the main challenges involved in planning, designing, building and operating healthcare facilities in the MENA region. I am looking forward to delivering a platform presentation on October 2, day one of the three-day conference. The first session’s morning agenda is dedicated to “Vision and Masterplan” and will cover analysis of the MENA healthcare market, executive perspectives, facility responses, and game changers. Specifically, my presentation will discuss strategic and comprehensive large-scale masterplan approaches to developing successful medical cities that adapt to tomorrow’s needs and technologies.”

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