Alexa-enabled entertainment, touchless controls for the bathroom sink, and a $2,300 simulated skylight above the bed sound more like amenities in a high-end boutique hotel suite than in a hospital room. But they’re all standard options for MedModular, a hospital room designed to prioritize “patient experience.”
Most hospital construction emphasizes thrift over comfort, because “the industry that’s building the rooms is not the industry that’s caring for the patients,” says Grant Geiger, CEO of EIR Healthcare, the startup behind MedModular. To correct what Geiger calls this “disconnect,” EIR Healthcare designs, fabricates, and delivers modular patient rooms as if they were “a finished product, like Ford delivers a truck or Boeing delivers a plane,” he says. And by standardizing design and components, “we can integrate technology [into the room] that would be cost-prohibitive for a construction company.” General contractors can slot MedModular rooms into a new building’s structure; hook them up to water, electric, and HVAC; and create patient towers full of futuristic rooms at a cost that’s competitive with traditional construction (usually between $400 and $1,200 per square foot, according to Geiger).
MedModular’s features aren’t just to impress—they’re designed to produce better patient outcomes. Touchless bathroom fixtures can prevent the spread of hospital-acquired infections, and “biophilic” elements like daylight-mimicking lighting can help patients’ recovery by alleviating stress. The company has also spoken with the U.S. military about potentially transporting MedModular rooms to natural disaster sites. “What happens a month after the hurricane hits, and there’s no longer a hospital but we can’t actually build one for another year?” Geiger says. “We can’t replace a hospital, but we can provide some level of care in a critical situation.” MedModular anticipates deploying its rooms in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and California in 2020.
A version of this article appeared in the October 2019 issue of Fast Company magazine.