The pandemic has brought about radical change in healthcare needs and delivery. The fragility of our healthcare systems has been exposed as hospitals neared breaking point with the influx of COVID-19 patients. Meanwhile, new migration and relocation patterns have emerged following the mass adoption of remote work, driving heightened demands on health services in places where populations have soared, most notably rural locations.

Existing health infrastructure is unsustainable, there is an urgent need to find smart ways to construct and transport healthcare services or repurpose the built environment to accommodate new needs.

A large white blimp flies in the sky. It reads: "Flying Whales," and a platform hangs beneath it that reads: "Hospital."
Flying Care by Flying Whales

For the new doctor’s office, the sky’s quite literally the limit, as the return of airship travel creates new opportunities for mobile healthcare. In March, Flying Whales announced the signing of a new multi-party collaboration agreement to aid the development of Flying Care, a transportable hospital. With the help of their new partners, the French aeronautical company plans to position their airships as a climate-friendly fleet, ideal for reaching isolated and hard to reach areas around the world.

Two women wearing masks in conversation in a laundromat. They stand next to a large yellow table with a yellow balloon, in front of a row of laundry machines. Two women are speaking at a table to the left of them, and one stands behind them.
Fabric Health by Corey Hart

Acknowledging the growing inaccessibility of healthcare, social impact start-up Fabric Health is bringing services to the most unlikely places. In Philadelphia they are offering mammograms, skin cancer screenings and blood tests at laundromats. This concept makes good use of the downtime customers have whilst waiting for their laundry, making it ideal for people who can’t afford to take time off work, and accessible to those who cannot afford to travel to traditional health care facilities.

The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has teamed up with creative studio Squint/Opera to create a prototype for a low-rise hospital where modularity, prefabrication, and automation are key. These features ensure that the Al Daayan Health District in Qatar can be reconfigured and expanded to react to events that lie outside the realm of regular expectations, such as a pandemic or climate emergencies. The prototype is positioning itself as a low-cost alternative to familiar hospital models and thanks to its minimum reliance on global supply chains, it can be assembled in almost any environment.

With the pandemic prompting many people to relocate and an increased focus on health, medical providers are finding new ways to reach isolated communities. Health and wellness brands should be mindful of the need to mobilize their offerings to cater to an increasingly dispersed and health-centric consumer base. This will help to future proof brands by ensuring that they are prepared for future high impact emergencies or pandemics.

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