Healthcare: Lessons Learned in 2020 to Fuel 2021 SolutionsDecember 14, 2020 | By Wayne O'Neill
Changes that were coming to the healthcare industry were on the horizon. The COVID-19 pandemic merely accelerated the pace of change must faster than anyone was prepared for.
Healthcare institutions and organizations have been forced to strategize major changes almost overnight. Now, healthcare is using these lessons learned to fuel 2021 planning.
For construction and design firms that operate in the healthcare space, it’s important to know what changes will become permanent. This way, you can align with the related business and political issues to create solutions and win more project scope.
That was the topic of discussion for my recent healthcare webinar with respected executive coach John G. Self. During the webinar, “Healthcare Overhaul: Strategies for Thriving Amidst Uncertainty,” John unpacked critical issues in healthcare that will become part of the “new normal” for the industry.
Big Picture of Changes to Healthcare
Here’s the big picture challenge facing healthcare. There will likely be another situation similar — or worse — than COVID-19 in a future period of time. This includes more dangerous airborne infections that will be more difficult to manage than the coronavirus. This likelihood is forcing a change to hospital design as well as re-programming for existing healthcare structures.
To be effective, these changes must be implemented with technological advances to support patient re-engagement. Think about how major retailers track customers as they approach the storefront to pick up groceries or online orders. The same technology will need to be implemented in healthcare to track the arrival of patients, connect with parking, and help them find the location of their office visit once they arrive.
Embracing technology is one way to address a decline in patient volumes as part of the larger patient re-engagement challenge. At a fundamental level, patients are concerned for safety. Some patients may not return, especially to large medical centers. This will require a different type of thinking about the “retail-ization” of healthcare to offer more quick-access type locations in suburban areas where patients can quickly receive services and see a doctor.
However, there is some resistance to move away from bigger medical centers to localized venues. Near-term reluctance by some hospital executives to begin taking action to address a multiple of facility priorities is driven by a realization that the pandemic has accelerated transformational changes:
- Value-based reimbursement
- Accountable care organizations
- Population health management
- Care at home
- Mobile health
Under normal conditions, these transformational changes would have slowly worked their way into the mix of how care is delivered. However, the changes are here — and most are here to stay. These issues will have an impact on the size and design of future facilities, affecting how construction and design firms should think about solutions in 2021 and beyond.
Trends That Are Part of Transformational Change in Healthcare
John Self relayed his insight into key trends that are impacting conversations and decision-making inside healthcare institutions. Consider the trends that should shape your thinking about how to formulate solutions for project scope creation and delivery.
1. The era of the patient waiting room is over. Patients are no longer comfortable waiting in a potential “infection spread zone.” This will place new demands for radical change on the concepts of patient flow. New, secure technology for parking garages and the development of specialty apps for mobile devices will play an important role in facilitating this important change.
2. Physician clinic and ambulatory care facility design must accommodate restricted patient access conditions. The high-rise model of a clinic may need to be replaced with lower level buildings through a design that provides for direct access to a specific clinic or diagnostic service, not passing through waiting rooms or riding in elevators with infected patients.
3. Patients with compromised immune system diseases will require separate facilities. Improved air filtration systems in hospitals helps, but more steps are required for true infection control to prevent the spread of airborne viruses.
4. Long-term care facility design must also change. Existing designs must be addressed to effectively isolate and limit the spread of an infection. Plus, technological innovation is needed to allow for patients to visit with family members in the latter stages of life.
5. Replacing existing patient towers will require flexibility. Room design must be flexible, allowing for quick conversion to alternative use. Finding low-cost capital or creative, low-cost financing plans will be required.
6. Patient registration processes and admitting spaces be must be reimagined. This will be necessary to reduce unnecessary crowding and provide for patient isolation when needed.
7. Telehealth is here to stay. Telemedicine is not to be feared. Healthcare leaders and physicians will be pushed into alignment with this opportunity by expanding their service offering and increasing their ability to see more patients in a cost-effective manner.
8. The move to Value Based Reimbursement (VBR) will accelerate. This will be especially attractive to the new wave of primary care providers entering their practice. Over time, this shift will contribute to the desire for design changes of medical clinics and ambulatory care facilities based on a different styles of practice.
9. Home Care/Mobile Healthcare will integrate into physician practices. Mobile healthcare companies and home care companies can play a role in enhancing the patient experience and boost satisfaction. This level of service will require efficient technology systems to ensure financial viability and patient satisfaction.
10. Talent acquisition needs will change. These dynamic changes will require leaders with different skillsets, especially the ability to be flexible and bring stakeholders together to craft solutions. Specifically, there will be a need to strategize hospitals that can be quickly and cost-effectively reconfigured to accommodate patients during a COVID-like situation.
11. Cost of Care will be an important driver in facility design and operation. New buildings must incorporate style and convenience to enhance patient satisfaction, but the primary driver of design must be cost of operation, from staffing to maintenance.
According to John Self, architects and builders who can deliver on new building requirements will emerge as the leaders in healthcare design and construction. The pandemic has moved this concept from a marketing attribute to a necessity.
Work With RESET to Create Solutions in Healthcare
There are many healthcare lessons learned and trends from 2020 that will influence decision-making moving forward. The key is being able to develop the right connections to leverage your solution for value and impact to meet your target client’s specific needs.
At RESET, we can help leverage your existing connections and other connections you may not be thinking about to create and deliver project scope. Through our proven methodology, The Connection Process, we can help set you on the path to generating revenue in a faster, more sustainable manner.
— Talk to us today about how we can support your construction or design firm win more project scope in healthcare.
— Watch the Webinar with John G. Self on how to re-engage stakeholders in healthcare.