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Data Mining for Healthcare Architecture and Beyond

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

‍Image Credit: © Cifotart | Fotolia

Real-Time Feedback for Improvement

Using social media to collect real-time feedback about a product, design, or event is becoming evermore popular. In fact, healthcare practitioners are now looking into ways to mine such data for the collection of “patient experience clues”. (1) After all, time is of the essence. By receiving patient experience feedback in real-time, it becomes possible for medical teams to make adjustments, and improve their performance to help patients heal better and faster.

By turning to social media hubs like Twitter, medical professionals are able to do sentiment analysis to track “patient experience metrics”. (1) Such metrics can help practitioners make real-time improvement correlations that help them understand how and why treatments work (or do not work) the way they do. This type of analysis is certainly a step in the right direction, as hospitals can use such data to really listen to patients — and then take strategic improvement actions.

Architectural Response from Data Mining

Data mining can be useful for not only healthcare architecture, but also for other building types. Just imagine how offices, schools, universities, stores, restaurants and even gyms can improve by becoming better listeners. Much can be learned from the conversations shared on social media platforms like Twitter. Often, comments made on Twitter are more candid, conversational, and emotional. Thus, tapping into this data provides incredible insight that is unique in nature. While it may not replace more formal quality control and experience analysis methods, Twitter and some other social media platforms can provide unique insight into the minds, lives, expectations, and emotions about their engagement with a particular place.

Using such mined real-time feedback to listen more deeply to occupant experiences, sheds greater light on their needs, goals and objectives. By better understanding why an occupant visits a place, much can be done to design that place to meet needs, and uplift experience to bring maximum benefit for occupants. Once built and in use, such real-time data serves to help the architecture to adapt to occupant needs and goals. Just imagine a building that uses such data to change its own behavior dynamically in real-time. Thus, social media can help not just those that administer services with a place, but it can also help the place itself to deliver better services.

Learning to See More Deeply for Predictive Design

As analysis methods become more sophisticated and more understanding is able to be obtained from mined data, it will become evermore possible to create architecture that engages occupants both interactively and emotionally. An emotional interaction experienced by an occupant in response to an architecture can bring great benefit if done at the right time and in the right way. This of course leads to a more adaptive architectural design — where buildings respond to occupants in real-time, and even engage in predictive design behaviors to help such occupants with impending needs, or longer term goals.

Data mining is simply one method to see more deeply into how an environment is performing. As you design, think of the different methods you could use to better understand your building occupants. Then, use your analysis to either feed data directly into your environment for dynamic behavior improvements, or use your analysis as a language that travels through your architecture to help people improve how they perform within your environments. In the latter examples, your architecture becomes a dynamic interface between data and occupant. And this is where your design takes on greater ability to boost its own performance so those experiencing it can reap the most reward.


(1) Gardner, James. (2016) Hospital Researchers Mine Twitter for Patient Experience Clues. [Accessed on February 27, 2016]


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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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