July 22, 2015

Today’s Healthcare Construction Decisions Take Many Factors Into Account

By David Yawn
– Memphis Medical News –

The science of designing healthcare facilities has reached the point that trends in cost, competition, advanced technologies and patient needs intermesh into multiple layers of detailed analyses before the first shovel of soil is turned.

Numerous forces shape the field, but the loftiest goal is to offer the best therapeutic spaces attainable. Patient focused care elevates treatment and diagnosis experienced through good design that promotes wellness. Issues continue: lower reimbursements, with continued increases in cost of treating patients and other considerations.

New technology is a central factor. Modern generation medical diagnostic equipment ushers in remarkable advances. A nationwide trend, for instance, is the concentration of costly imaging equipment into major remote imaging centers electronically linked to individual health facilities. New technologies in patient record tracking includes ones to track medical charts, medication, registration and location. Nevertheless, the ongoing aim is to offer “high touch” as well as “high tech.”

“This technology move results in a reduction of the space previously needed for hard record storage and in an increase in the need for computer capacity,” says Carma Cowan Jude of CRESA Partners – Memphis. “Additional connectivity is required at a variety of locations throughout spaces. Another design issue is that medical and surgical devices are becoming smaller; however, construction and medical code requirements often lag behind and don’t allow for downsizing of certain surgical and procedure rooms. This results in more wasted space that the medical office must maintain.”

Design principles must take into account accessibility, aesthetics and even amenities for families of patients.

Improved operational efficiencies are achieved by consolidating services and integrating departmental relationships. Reducing walking distances, sharing services and flexibility in patient treatment spaces are sought today.

Medical space users are looking for a consistency of exam rooms, bringing them to a standard level, Jude says. Accessible, plenty and convenient parking for patients and staff is of importance to medical space users, she says.

In a macro sense, physician practices have been trending toward owning their own facilities or leasing separate locations that are in proximity to a hospital in the last five to seven years due to reimbursement regulatory costs. Hospitals are increasingly allowing developers to construct and operate medical office space for them. Hospitals also accommodate out patient business by leasing and/or constructing facilities for specialty enterprises for such services in niche markets.

Mark Halperin, executive vice president of Boyle Investment Co., says “The market seems to be gravitating to locations that allow medical professionals to serve several hospitals from one location.” He says space design is very sensitive to efficiencies and patient comfort, calling for creative design solutions.

“It also appears to me there is a trend toward consolidation of specialty practices, causing the need for larger medical office spaces,” Halperin of Boyle adds.