Q&A May 10, 2022

Designing for the patient, the clinician and the community: The future of health infrastructure

In this Q&A, we caught up with Matthew Holmes who is a chartered U.K. and French registered architect and leads Jacobs’ Global Health Infrastructure business.

Q&A with Matthew Holmes Global Solutions Director, Health Infrastructure, Brisbane, Australia

Matthew Holmes is a chartered U.K. and French registered architect who leads Jacobs’ Global Health Infrastructure business. Based in Singapore, he leads a diverse global team delivering health solutions for clients across both hemispheres.

What sparked your interest in design?

From a young age I was keen on building and constructing. My interest in design and architecture was shaped during my adolescence, which led to studying Architecture in central London.  

After training, I worked in London for a few years before relocating to France, to the mountains of Grenoble in the French Alps (one of my passions has been skiing and hiking in the mountains). I worked at a leading European firm that specialized in healthcare design, and my introduction to the domain of healthcare.

The opportunity to work with Jacobs arose when I supported a consortium project in Australia. I accepted a position at Jacobs because culturally it felt like the right fit, with a lot of potential. Initially, most of the work was across Australia and New Zealand but now supporting projects and teams around the world.

What projects did you work on in the beginning for Jacobs?

We’ve delivered a range of projects ranging from some of the most remote at Greymouth on the West Coast of New Zealand, through to the Pacific island of Kiribati, through to march larger projects such as the New Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide.

So how did this grow into a market driver and how has it grown since 2020?

We started looking at our capabilities globally in health during the early phases of the pandemic, Jacobs strategically decided to launch our global health market and I took on the role of Global Solutions Director for Health Infrastructure. The focus shifted from just health design to all those touch points in the health and built environment – everything from pre-planning, planning design, delivery, commissioning, and asset management – the full life cycle.

With the launch of the health market at Jacobs, we’ve secured a wide range of projects globally, including in the Middle East, Asia, the U.K., and now Singapore. I’m especially proud of the team in NZ which has grown in capabilities and capacity significantly. Canada is another region where we've been doing some really interesting research work on long-term care in Ontario with the University of Toronto. In the USA, we are supporting our clients with a range of health planning and construction services. 

“You must look farther ahead in planning – it’s not unusual on big infrastructure projects that you are looking at 7-10 years from planning to delivery. So, you have to plan for changes.”

Matthew Holmes

Matthew Holmes

Jacobs Global Solutions Director for Health Infrastructure

What are two or three health projects or programs you are most proud of leading or managing at Jacobs?

I think the work we did in New Zealand, like the Christchurch Hospital, was outstanding, as well as the award-winning architectural services the Jacobs team delivered for the expansion of Blacktown Hospital in New South Wales and, more recently, the Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Adelaide.

In these projects, we’ve helped our client envision their future health facilities by looking holistically and their entire health needs. Developing in collaboration their models of care, clinical service plans, and business needs to meet their and communities health needs. Another project underway that meets a wide range of needs, from social value and health equity to sustainability and community health, is the project we are undertaking in the South Pacific islands of Kiribati.

What’s the favorite part of your job?

I think I'm quite lucky in my job, working in health is of great value. You know you're doing the type of work that is a benefit for society, good for people. We also plan to do more on wellness initiatives to help communities be healthy.

What are some of the trends in healthcare design and infrastructure development worldwide?

A few trends come to mind:

  • Looking beyond physical infrastructure supporting care delivery and how technology and AI can improve patient outcomes.
  • Evaluating workforce requirements and how healthcare workers are able to access and transfer information – using data to bring all the components of patient care together is key.
  • More emphasis on wellness and looking at that through a design/planning lens—seeing how our delivery team can help clients reduce the demand on their workforce and augment wellness.
  • Climate change and decarbonization: helping health systems become more sustainable for the future. It’s part of a holistic approach to help healthcare systems with long-term capacity planning.
  • Design automation, this is now out of the box, and will change rapidly how we will deliver projects soon.

What are some of the challenges in delivering a major infrastructure project?

You must look farther ahead in planning – it’s not unusual on big infrastructure projects that you are looking at 7-10 years from planning to delivery. Forecasting 10 years plus is an art, flexibility to accommodate unanticipated change is key.

How do you spend your free time? What would we most likely find you doing when you’re not working?

Anything outdoors, running, cycling, mountains just not so many in Singapore!

What do you most like about being part of #OurJacobs?

Well, I think it's the diversity of who we are and what we do – diversity in culture and diversity in capabilities and skill sets. You learn from different people.

The other part is obviously being part of an organization that brings together people who can deliver solutions for our clients. I really enjoy collaborating with our colleagues around the planet and connecting what we do.

About the interviewee

Matthew Holmes

Matthew is a chartered U.K. and French registered architect who leads the Health Infrastructure portion of Jacobs' global health market. After completing his professional training in the U.K., he worked in mainland Europe for 10 years working on a range of health projects. With the completion of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Clermont-Ferrand in France in 2011 he relocated to Australia where he has been instrumental in leading the Jacobs’ health advisory and design teams across a wide range of health projects across the world. His more recent work includes new facilities supporting the delivery of health services in rural locations across Australia, New Zealand and Kiribati through to the planning and design of major tertiary facilities such as the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide.

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