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Want to be strategic about healthcare delivery? Start with a facility master plan

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

You know you need to update your healthcare facility. You’re not operating as efficiently as you could. You know what’s not working, but in this climate of “doing more with less” how do you take steps that are strategic and sound? If there is one thing that’s constant in health care delivery, it’s change: if you’re going to successfully balance current needs with the demands of an unknown future, you should start with careful facility planning.

Step 1: Know what you have
This means developing a detailed inventory of buildings, including square footages. It’s surprising how many facilities don’t know what they have in terms of satellite space. The decentralization of services has meant that hospitals and healthcare systems have to manage more real estate, which can be hard to do remotely. Establish a database with building size and current programs, whether the space is leased or owned, and identify appropriate building program types for each designated building.

Step 2: Give your infrastructure a check-up
Give your building systems, envelope, and code compliance a long, hard look. Once you have a reliable and detailed inventory database, identify properties that require systems assessment. This might mean conducting thorough building systems (e.g., mechanical, electrical, plumbing) reviews so you can understand existing systems and the viability of continued use. Consider a qualitative description of building’s envelope to identify ongoing maintenance issues. Don’t forget code analysis to help you identify compliance issues and potential required code upgrades.

Step 3: Make a plan
Once you know what you have, where it is, and how it’s working, it’s time for the heavy lifting: preparing a report that pulls together the information you’ve gathered so far in a document that you can use to understand the condition of your buildings and forecast their highest and best future use.

I have these conversations with healthcare clients of all sizes on a regular basis. When they question the value of a facility master plan I tell them all the same thing: The future is definitely coming. There’s no substitute for being prepared.

- Katie Faulkner
Katie Faulkner AIA, LEED AP is an Associate Principal and a leader in Shepley Bulfinch’s healthcare practice.

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