It’s no secret that healthcare organizations across the country are shifting more and more services to outpatient settings. The move makes sense for a number of reasons: 1) the ability to reduce costs, 2) improved outcomes, 3) increased access, and 4) increased market share. The development of clinics is further inspired by healthcare reform pressing the need for population health management, with providers more invested than ever in keeping people well. This mindset is requiring solutions like medical home models of care delivery and inspiring new facilities that support collaborative, team-based environments. This current landscape is in large part the result of private physicians joining group practices at large healthcare systems and institutions creating specialty clinics to maximize their service offerings and broaden their reach.
Clinics are typically planned around 100 to 120 square-foot exam rooms, allowing space minimally invasive procedures, as well as space for family members. But what’s equally shaping projects is the consult room, as providers recognize that often times clinic visits don’t require an exam at all. Clinic design today is also moving away from dedicated physicians’ offices and offering more collaborative space for care team members. Housing clinical staff around a central core supports collaborative care by creating team work areas where nurses and physicians work side by side. This was the case for the Genesis Bettendorf Healthplex, where the multidisciplinary staff collaborates in a central core where care teams work together but are also readily available to patients and family members.
Another Important consideration is to insure that designs are working to provide flexibility and adaptability throughout, as building uses are likely to change over time. Providers are also requesting exam rooms that are as standardized as possible. Just as hospitals brace for a future where only the highest acuity patients will likely be admitted as more care is delivered in outpatient settings, clinics will likely face a similar fate as more conditions are able to be managed right at home.
Steve Oliver, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP
Director of Healthcare