Future State of Outpatient Facilities and Medical Offices

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Tina LarsenBy Tina Larsen

Changes in the care-delivery model and market dynamics will provide positive shifts in the way physician office space will be utilized in the future. With a focus on the patient journey and providing staff-centered workspaces, there are incredible opportunities to deliver efficiencies while improving satisfaction.

Continuum of Care Approach – Flexibility, Modularity and Amenities

With the industry trending away from “treatment,” but towards “wellness,” medical resources need to attract clients by providing pre-treatment services, diagnostic services and post treatment services all in the same building. If a patient or patient’s family is comfortable with an environment (“I know where to park,” “I know how to get to the elevator,” “the staff is friendly”), they are more likely to return for services. This promotes a healthier individual and maximizes the investment for physical spaces. Using LEAN planning and the latest evidence-based design research, new physician office space will be designed to offer flexibility, minimize waste and provide enhanced spaces for patients and staff.



Flexibility

Flexibility will be paramount for new buildings to stay relevant and evolve over time. Offering treatment spaces that are standardized with the option to customize with furniture improves spaces speed-to-market by allowing doctors to utilize existing construction with only the possibility of needing to add an additional furniture piece. The same room can be utilized as an exam space, consultation space or treatment room. A variety of providers including supplemental services such as mental health services and massage therapy can utilize the same physical areas at differing times and maximize the effectiveness of a space. Operating Room (OR) spaces designed at a slightly larger scale, expand the opportunity for a wider variety of spine and orthopedic surgeries to be provided at the Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC). Automated lab equipment designed in a modular way, allows for the flexibility to increase throughput at any time.

The rising trend of co-working spaces will influence future medical planning and provide a model for higher-utilized clinics. A provider may use the exam pod on Tuesdays and Thursdays and a completely different type of provider will use the space on Monday and Wednesday with a therapist available on Friday. To successfully incorporate this trend and attract top talent, the environment needs to be cutting edge, flexible to the doctor’s needs and contain a variety of amenities for both the providers and their patients.

Modularity

A modular space-planning approach provides the most flexible clinic and physician office space opportunities by standardizing structural grid systems, exam room sizes and orientation and by creating efficient patient and caregiver flow and effective functional organization.

Modular design promotes operational efficiency when:

1. Waiting areas are decentralized and closer to points of care.

2. Provider space elements are clustered at the point of service.

3. Standardized room designs are implemented, allowing functions to change over time.

4. Design optimizes layout to reduce travel distances for caregivers and patients.

Modular designs also allow for the accommodation of new workplace trends (i.e. co-working spaces), non-traditional lease terms, partial-week use and integrated medicine/wellness space. Using pre-manufactured furniture systems and modular partitions, space can be quickly brought to market and adjusted to give flexibility to new providers. Flexible pods can house a specialty practice two days a week and be adjusted to a wellness provider on the remaining days.

Concierge Services and Amenities

Whether you are a baby boomer or a millennial, amenities are a key factor making healthcare selections. This also holds true for doctors who are looking for a full spectrum of support for their practice. Global trends in providing hospitality-type amenities are growing and seeing a significant increase in healthcare.

Providing a few impactful amenities like free wi-fi, flexibility of waiting spaces including outdoor gardens, healthy food options and community meeting space can enhance the user’s experience. With the use of technology, electronic messaging boards and texting alerts can allow patients to know where they are in the system allowing them to take advantage of these options.

Tina Larsen is the Healthcare Market Sector Leader for Corgan and has over 32 years of experience on a wide variety of complex clinical projects in both renovations and ground- up facilities. She brings an innovative and evidence-based mindset to build places that reflect the vision of the healthcare organization in their mission of patient care. She is EDAC Certified and a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Tina is an expert in her field, a team builder and an asset to any project.  In the new Parkland Hospital project, she spearheaded the planning and design of clinical support areas such as pharmacy and respiratory therapy, and logistical support areas throughout the acute hospital and WISH tower. She also oversaw the development of administrative support, nutrition services and public spaces. Throughout her career, she has facilitated discussions with inpatient and outpatient clinical users to define and refine operational practices related to the opportunities and constraints of the built environment.

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