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Making the most of 2013 in healthcare design

Healthcare designers often find themselves balancing between the academic vocation of healthcare in the search of the perfect healing environment and the realities of the business of design. Just look at the healthcare conference agendas – the vocational sessions far outweigh the few on business strategy.

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Making the Most of 2013 in Healthcare Design

Two key factors will influence healthcare facility design in 2013 and shape the conversations we as designers need to have with our clients.

Healthcare designers often find themselves balancing between the academic vocation of healthcare in the search of the perfect healing environment and the realities of the business of design. Just look at the healthcare conference agendas – the vocational sessions far outweigh the few on business strategy.

In the same way, executive leadership of healthcare providers—while, of course, dedicated to the patients they serve—also have the responsibility to attain their financial targets and grow market share.

However, two key factors will converge this year to influence the conversation that we as designers need to have with our clients if we are to optimize the opportunities for 2013.

  1. The other side of the Fiscal Cliff. Whatever the final outcome of how our national debt will be paid down, one thing is clear: our clients will have to do more with less. Even if raising finance and the actual bond rating of our clients has eased since 2008, we will not revert back to how things were, certainly not in the foreseeable future.
  2. Healthcare reform. Now that this is a reality and actually underway, healthcare will have to be more affordable and will have to embrace a patient population that was previously uninsured. This will influence how healthcare providers plan their next generation of building stock to meet a very different set of financial circumstances.

These are the priorities of our clients.  When designers and clients first meet (often at the interview table) we need speak to them in a language that addresses their primary concerns of implementation time and finance. Focusing only on patient experience, or LEED certification, or healing environments will not be providing our clients with “additive knowledge” – they can obtain that type of information at any healthcare conference. Instead, our clients want to know how quickly and cost-effectively they can have a project delivered. Those who can provide this type of information through innovation and design will rise to be the thought leaders, trusted advisors, and business partners of healthcare leaders.

In summary, in 2013, more than any other year, the goal posts have changed.

Therefore, while the ability to deliver a well-designed healthcare building will always be a critical and a required base qualification for any design firm competing in the marketplace, leadership in healthcare design will increasingly need to connect to the business priorities of our clients. In other words, we must reexamine what our clients are looking for, empathize with those needs, and speak their language. We are planning for their success and will know we, too, have succeeded when we see them reaching their goals.

Authored by Martin Valins

Leadership in healthcare design will increasingly need to connect to the business priorities of our clients.

Whatever the final outcome of how our national debt will be paid down, one thing is clear: our clients will have to do more with less.

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