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Five Ways Doctor's Visits Will Change

Your future checkups will be much different than anything you've experienced. (We don't mind, just as long as we still get a lollipop.) Trends driving changes in healthcare design will be a hot topic at our Philadelphia Healthcare Summit on April 16 (register today). We got a sneak peek at five:

1) Consumers want to feel welcome.

Health practices are opening more outpatient centers as they coordinate primary care, specialists, diagnostics, imaging, and more all under one umbrella, says Array Architects principal Jonathan Bykowski, who'll be speaking at our event. Because outpatient care is a competitive field, with smaller independent providers going up against larger systems and networks, no one can afford to take the patient’s experience for granted. (Patients need to be wooed with smooth talk and fine aged penicillin.)The goal is a facility that is welcoming and easy to navigate—one that doesn't have “that hospital feel” to it, he says. It’s a trend that acknowledges patients for who they are: consumers in the healthcare marketplace.

2) Lack of land is leading to creative, adaptive reuse.

In Philly, it can be tough to find land for ground-up healthcare development (almost as difficult as it is to find a decent closer for the Phillies), which makes adaptive reuse of vacant retail properties practical. Supermarkets in shopping centers offer a number of pluses like physical volume and sufficient parking. But the trend isn't limited to strip malls: Jefferson University recently announced a lease on the PSFS Bank Building on Washington Square (pictured) where it will open a new ambulatory care center. The space itself is a veteran of reuse, last occupied by Chops Steakhouse, and a block from Penn Medicine Washington Square, a 153k SF outpatient facility developed by Liberty Property Trust that opened last year.

3) Process-led design is being driven by bottom lines.

As providers grapple with how to reduce operating costs without sacrificing staff or quality of care, efficient designs can allow them to cut back on waste and the time they spend gathering information, supplies, and equipment. Jonathan says that process-led design begins not with the design itself, but with a simple request to the client: “Help me understand how you want to work.” It’s a surprise to many of them, but he says they’re happy to be on board; their answers are the first step of impact in the way that Array designs a building. Here's Jonathan in a role-playing session at a rehab hospital undergoing renovation...

...and here's the design that it produced. Jonathan says that the final configuration gives patients in recovery the independence to perform daily tasks, while also accommodating staff assistance. Testing out scenarios was vital in order to overcome the challenges of working within the hospital's outdated footprint.

4) Healthcare practitioners need flexibility.

Process also played a significant role in building the 140k SF Indian River Health & Wellness Center in Florida, which Array also designed. The client wanted flexible space for its new outpatient center with the expectation that they would evolve within the facility. Array determined the design by talking with the doctors before drawing up the plans. Despite its anecdotal assumption that each doctor required different configurations, Jonathan says it discovered that their exam spaces and needs were all the same. (Doctors: if you've met one, you've met 'em all.) Array designed 120 identical exam rooms that can be flexibly used by the hour by the center’s 58 physician practices.

5) Real-time data is being used to create efficient space.

With more robust standards on electronic health records under the ACA, doctors are at an advantage to triage and attend to patients in a more effective way. This especially goes for physicians in surgical and recovery care. With the right data, Array can do simulation modeling up front to see what works and what can be done to identify space that isn't needed. In some cases, clients could rework their traditional process of stages of post-surgery recovery and save more floor area.