Building or remodeling a clinic can be more than just including an extra exam room or larger office space. Today’s clinics are becoming one-stop shops.
Technology has also advanced so that services normally associated with referral clinics can be incorporated into small practices. With the function of veterinary clinics changing, building and design take careful consideration.
Today’s state-of-the-art veterinary hospital is built to respond to the specific needs and desires of a particular community of pet owners. While there are some communities that still support a practical, affordable approach to veterinary medicine, there is a growing number of people that are willing to invest in sophisticated treatment and high-end services for their pets.
Animal Arts/Gates Hafen Cochrane has designed projects ranging from 1,500 to 65,000 square feet throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan.
Whether the approach is touch or technology, today’s successful hospital is a tool to help a veterinary practice provide its highest standard of care. Veterinary-specific architecture firms are becoming more common as clinics move beyond the basics.
New Ideas for New Builds
Emphasis on wellness care is rising so veterinarians should think about adding these services in their practice. Wellness care has led to rapid growth in services such as therapy and rehabilitation. Other practices have found success by including services for the healthy pet, such as boarding, daycare or behavior training.
This is a new concept with people who want to move away from the kennel spaces and toward private rooms that encourage the pet to have an area where he can sleep, eat and have a place to hide. These spaces often include webcams so that the owners can go to the Web site and check on their animals and phone hookups where the owner can speak to the animal.
Another prevalent trend is the emergence of specialty veterinary medicine. Specialty hospitals have their own challenges. They typically incorporate advanced technologies, and are designed with complex mechanical systems to maintain high medical standards.
While high-tech machines are often the norm in specialty practices, many general practices are taking advantage of advances in technology, too. Many practices are looking at digital X-ray, wireless systems, ultrasound, endoscopies and other technologies.
Technological advances mean that equipment is also getting smaller, requiring less space. For example, digital X-ray images can be brought up on a laptop.
Integrating business technology is a popular trend among new builds. Clients want a wireless computer system, which involves a laptop rather than a large computer at a fixed location. Seventy five to 80 percent of our clients are going with wireless.
Paperless systems are tempting since paper takes up a lot of space in the office, but not many are sold on this concept yet. Paperless systems mean that the vet can put info straight into the computer, which is then downloaded onto a file. I think as technology increases, more veterinarians will choose this system.
Mechanical control is also a wave of the future. With mechanical controls, fresh air is brought into the public area of the clinic, some of which is transferred into the animal housing and then taken out of the building.
Since the air is not re-circulated, clinic smells won’t reach the public. Partition walls help with acoustics so that noises from the treatment area won’t disturb clients and pets, and privacy in exam rooms is maintained.
The standard waiting room has evolved into a lobby-type environment.
Clients should not only consider their needs for the new build but also consider what the future may hold. For instance, if you are building a two-story clinic where the second-floor space is unused due to budget constraints, we’ll consider how we could add a stairwell or an elevator shaft. This may entail leaving a room that is for the time being used as a storage room.