Existing space in hospitals is a valuable resource that historically has been overlooked as organizations focus on renovating and expanding their physical plants. With fluctuating workloads, rapidly changing technology, staff turnover, and limited access to capital in today’s dynamic healthcare environment, hospital leaders are increasingly looking for ways to better use what they already have. They are also committed to building flexible space when they do renovate or start from scratch.
Often unknown to the general public, physicians in the U.S. continuously struggle to defend and expand their increasingly overlapping empires. Hospitals, freestanding healthcare centers, and other venues are their battlegrounds and facility planners are often in the crossfire. As medical technology continues to evolve ― and reimbursement diminishes ― the traditional boundary lines separating specialties have become blurred and facility planning can be contentious.
When it comes to parking, hospitals seem to never have enough. At the same time, customers ― whether patients, staff, or visitors ― always want to park as close to the their designated entrance as possible. Innovations in design, technology, and financing, along with careful planning, can mitigate shortages and improve customer convenience. Because easy and convenient access is a prime indicator of hospital customer satisfaction, more U.S. hospitals are rethinking the expansive asphalt parking lot and dreary concrete parking structure.
Many medical services are provided both in hospital and community settings, such as physician offices and freestanding imaging or ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). Services commonly provided in both settings include laboratory tests, physical therapy, outpatient surgery, routine and advanced imaging, physician visits, and noninvasive and invasive procedures, such as endoscopy or cardiac catheterization. When the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) originally developed the hospital outpatient department (HOPD) designation to establish a higher reimbursement rate for hospital-based outpatient services, hospitals started purchasing physician practices, freestanding imaging centers, and ambulatory surgery centers and rebranding them as hospital outpatient departments to collect the higher Medicare payments. Now CMS is considering site-neutral payments which may result in another 180 degree shift from an on-campus to an off-campus location.
Automation — with the barcode as the foundation — has transformed the hospital pharmacy into a high-tech manufacturing plant that allows pharmacists to focus on direct patient care. Although automation in the pharmacy requires a significant capital investment, it reduces labor costs, lowers the risk of dispensing errors, optimizes inventory control, and provides better security, among other benefits.
Have you ever wondered why there is significant variation in the nursing unit space per bed from project to project? Particularly when the number of beds is the same. Historically, this variation was attributed to the mix of private, semiprivate, and multiple-bed patient rooms. However, even today when most hospital building projects in the U.S. have all private patient rooms, the nursing unit space per bed continues to vary. Contributing factors include the size and layout of the private patient room and adjoining toilet/shower room, the specific grouping of the patient rooms within the unit, and the overall design and layout of the floor itself. The amount of family, visitor, and staff amenities provided on the floor and the extent of point-of-care clinical and support services are also factors.