“Thinking out of the box”: Future trends in healthcare discussed at the ASHE Annual Conference
By: Carl Emery
I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Chicago to attend the 51st ASHE Annual Conference. I was glad to see that the event was well attended, and everyone was eager to learn more about the state of the Healthcare Industry especially how providers respond to the new challenges. The Conference title was, “Survival of the Fittest”. A fitting name for the current turbulence of the healthcare industry. Over the last few years, the Healthcare Industry has experience a period of transformation and a time of uncertainty. This year’s conference focused on how healthcare providers can increase efficiency in their hospital operations. Healthcare providers know it is critical to optimize their operations while also providing a higher-quality of care to their patients. This difficult balance puts tremendous pressure on all healthcare firms to reduce costs especially when planning for a new capital project.
Now architects, consultants, and contractors are being asked to “think out of the box” like never before. The focus has shifted from designing a project on-time and within budget to how can we design a facility that will lead to reduced operational cost once the facility is on-line. When looking at a healthcare development project and cost over a 10 year period, operational cost can reach up to 80% of the total cost during that period opposed to 8% for construction (HFM Magazine Article Reference). Value engineering the 80% operational cost during the design process is the key. Hospitals are collaborating with their Design and Construction teams to design more efficient facilities. Examples include:
- Restructure departments to operate more efficiently
- Integration of point of care technologies (nurse call, wireless phones, RTLs, etc.) to provide efficiencies in patient care
- Re-think how patient rooms are organized to reduce walking distances by clinical team
- Standardize patient rooms to provide flexibility and room use adjustments
- Designing operating rooms on the same floor as the ICU
- Standardizing patient rooms to provide flexibility and room use adjustments
- Position all pre-admission testing and outpatient services together near the Hospital entrance
All of the above items not only help reduce operation cost but also provide a better experience for the patient.
Healthcare is no longer, “business as usual”, but a time to do more with less, cut cost, and think creatively how operations can be optimized. This approach and business philosophy will be the key to “Survival” in the coming years for everyone in the healthcare industry.