Magazine article Health Facilities Management

Designing for Future Care: Facilities Need to Respond to Changing System

Magazine article Health Facilities Management

Designing for Future Care: Facilities Need to Respond to Changing System

Article excerpt

What do you see as IT's role in the future of health care?

Information technology within U.S. hospitals is excellent and getting better all the time. However, first we need to keep people healthy and out of the hospital. In that sphere, we still have a lot of work to do.

Expanding the capabilities of our cellphones would bring prevention and early diagnosis directly to us. These devices could monitor blood pressure, EKG and heart rhythms, glucose levels, pacemakers, vaccination schedules, colonoscopies, breast exams, doctors' visits and a host of other possibilities.

Smartphones could access our medical history and records 24 hours a day, seven days a week from anywhere in the world. We can access our bank accounts and airline itineraries anytime from anywhere; why could we not do that via our personal communication devices?

What is the future of health care facility design and how will the Affordable Care Act impact design?

New hospitals will have to be extremely efficient in terms of square footage, and the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems and their costs. New sources of energy and devices such as solar panels and wind power will have to be developed further and utilized.

There will be many new people entering the system after the Affordable Care Act takes effect and we will have to accommodate them. We can accomplish that through greater emphasis on preventive care at community comprehensive primary care centers, which will open in response to the Affordable Care Act.

The primary care centers could be located at places of work, on school grounds or near a church, or within shopping centers.

Are existing hospitals, especially the new, larger facilities, suited to meet the demands of the evolving care delivery system?

We need both large hospitals and smaller primary care facilities to have a comprehensive network of balanced care. I believe that they will have to work together in comprehensive health networks.

The major elements of a network involve a primary care center with no beds, a community hospital, and a university teaching hospital as well as various-sized facilities in between as they operate in a network.

There's a big investment in new hospitals. And one must have large up-to-date and well-equipped critical care hospitals to be competitive, and to attract specialists for open-heart surgery and other complex procedures. So, I do not believe these big hospitals will or can go away.

Some experts argue that hospital systems need to do a better job of pushing services out to where patients live rather than deploying a centralized model. How can today's facilities be better utilized if this comes to pass?

The large facility has to take a proactive attitude and reach out through the network of these smaller facilities to reach the community. The nature of that varies according to the geography of the area. The mission and mindset of a comprehensive health care network and the major hospitals within that network need to be first to prevent disease, and then if disease occurs, to treat the disease efficiently, effectively and swiftly.

Energy-efficiency and sustainability are a constant challenge for health care facilities. What needs to change about hospital designs to maximize energy use and become more sustainable?

When architects design a hospital, they have to realize it's not just the millions of dollars to build a facility that are involved, but it's also the money it's going to cost to operate the facility over its life cycle. They have to design features that reduce operating costs. …

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