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User-centric work environments in modular healthcare facilities

Leena Aalto (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland)
Pia Sirola (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland)
Tiina Kalliomäki-Levanto (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland)
Marjaana Lahtinen (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland)
Virpi Ruohomäki (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland)
Heidi Salonen (Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)
Kari Reijula (Faculty of Medicine, Helsinki University, Helsinki, Finland)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 28 February 2019

Issue publication date: 10 July 2019




The challenges arising from the reform of the social and healthcare sector call for efficient, effective and novel processes in both public and private health and medical care. Facilities need to be designed to suit the new processes and to offer usable workspaces at different levels of healthcare services. Along with traditional construction, modular facility innovations could be one solution to these pressures. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


This case study analyzed the different usability characteristics of the work environment in modular and non-modular healthcare facilities (HCFs). The qualitative research method was based on semi-structured interviews of employees and observations of the case buildings.


According to the results, the usability characteristics were divided into four main categories: functionality, healthiness, safety/security and comfort. The main differences between the modular and non-modular facilities appeared to be room size, soundproofing, safety issues and the utilization of colors and artwork, which were all perceived as better realized in the non-modular facilities. The staff highlighted functionality as the most important characteristic in their work environment. They even considered functionality as a feature of a comfortable work environment.


This paper presents new knowledge and a detailed description of the opinions and experiences of healthcare professionals concerning a user-centric, usable environment in the context of modular and non-modular HCFs.



No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation and pilot organizations are gratefully acknowledged for funding this research. This study is part of the “Healing and Modular Healthcare Facilities” (HeMoHes) research project in collaboration with the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Aalto University and the University of Helsinki (Grant No. 4093/31/2015). The project was audited and approved by the Ethics Committee of The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.


Aalto, L., Sirola, P., Kalliomäki-Levanto, T., Lahtinen, M., Ruohomäki, V., Salonen, H. and Reijula, K. (2019), "User-centric work environments in modular healthcare facilities", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 26 No. 6, pp. 1047-1062.



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