Hospitals and clinics, as well as in-patient and out-patient facilities, across the country are being expanded, remodeled, and improved, as healthcare continues to take center stage. In the past decade, changes in medical insurance programs, mostly in response to the Affordable Care Act, has made serious inroads in how care is provided and where. With more individuals covered by insurance, fewer people resort to emergency rooms as the first choice for healthcare, taking a burden off that operation and, in turn, making growth in other areas more important.
In fact, nearly one third of U.S. healthcare spending is going into ambulatory care. Ambulatory facilities must reflect the importance of outpatients in their design and ease of use. With growing expectations of outpatient care, many healthcare facilities have invested in high quality ambulatory care facility design, with certain trends showing up one after another.
Simone Health, a division of Simone Development Companies, sees three major trends for ambulatory facility design:
Using a lean process: For an ambulatory facility to run efficiently, the outpatient process must be designed with patient throughput in mind. Adopting a lean process can be a challenge if a facility is not optimally designed for one. First, an assessment of what is backing up patient flow needs to be made and then the designers need to start addressing those issues. This assessment should be followed up by designing a clean, improved operational process, and then enhance the space for a lean process to work best. Using simulation models and other visualization tools helps to make sure the operational design functions smoothly, working out any small issues before applying the lean process to real patient care.
Designing for group visits: A growing number of patients are becoming exposed to shared medical appointments, otherwise known as group visits. For common diseases like diabetes, group visits are a way to teach large groups of patients about pain or disease management and treatment options, alongside the chance to cultivate a support group of those suffering from the same conditions. Many current ambulatory facilities do not have the set-up for these types of visits, but they can be a highly valuable space for patient-caregiver communication. One consideration is that group appointments are, on average, longer than individual ones. Depending on how many patients attend the shared appointments and how long they take, the group space’s value to an ambulatory facility could change.
Digital exam rooms for telehealth: With technological advancements making strides in recent years, developments in technology have made telehealth, a recent phenomenon in the healthcare world, more common and desirable. Home care through e-visits and various other telehealth solutions can provide valuable healthcare experiences to patients burdened by distance, symptoms, or other situations, who cannot make it to the office. Video conferencing, phone calls, email chains, and even online media channels can all be valuable telehealth tools and tend to be familiar mediums to many patients. Equipping digital exam rooms with tools for easy, high-quality telehealth services can not only expand geographical patient reach but make more time for in-patient care while shortening lines and wait times for outpatient facilities.
These trends all contribute something new and exciting to an ambulatory healthcare facility. Investing in these changes could see a higher quality patient experience, alongside better organization and profits for the facility itself. Administrations are urged to incorporate these trends into their next facility design.
Another area of expansion corresponds to a national trend is in education, particularly healthcare and medical facilities. It’s no longer the realm of major universities, either, as smaller state and private colleges and community colleges are entering the field.
As an example, a new state-of-the-art Allied Health Building was recently completed for the Hillsborough Community College’s (HCC) Dale Mabry Campus, Tampa, Fla., by Gilbane Building Co. The four-story, 62,670-sq.ft. building includes a simulated hospital allowing multiple health science programs to work together, creating conditions found in real-life situations.
The Allied Health Building houses facilities for the emergency medical services, medical laboratory science, nursing, and respiratory care programs. The facility will provide space for classroom instruction and hands-on learning using the latest technological advances employed by the health sciences fields.
The facility will contribute significantly to the preparation of healthcare professionals for the region’s workforce and enables the college to continue as a training provider for most of the community’s first responders. Throughout the next ten years, health-related jobs in the Tampa Bay region are projected to grow by more than 50,000, with some job fields expected to grow by as much as 40%. This job growth will have a tremendous effect on the region’s economic base as many of these job fields average $40,000 per year in salary.
The scope of work done by Gilbane consisted of new classrooms, medical laboratory technology, computer information system, and physical therapy spaces, as well as administrative offices, conference rooms, nursing stations, simulated hands-on laboratories, and lecture hall.
In addition to the New Allied Health Building, a central energy plant expansion and infrastructure upgrades were completed. HCC will also enjoy an updated entrance for the campus as well as generous parking enhancements.
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