Health Care Institute News
Rethink Their Community Impact and Patient Flow: Key Takeaways
from the California Healthcare Facilities Summit
||by Megan Headley | Jan 08, 2018
Healthcare systems are facing new
responsibilities in how they make location decisions. This was
one of the most significant takeaways at the Dec. 2017
California Hospital, Outpatient Facilities & Medical Office
Buildings Summit in Los Angeles, organized by SquareFootage and
co-hosted by the Health Care Institute.
Four of California’s biggest providers provided their
perspectives on economic forces along with major designers and
builders. Kaiser is changing its overall mission, according to
Jodie Lesh, senior vice president, National Delivery System
Strategy, Planning, & Design for Kaiser Permanente and president
of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.
“We had to rethink why we exist and update our mission statement
to include improving the health and wellbeing of not just our
members, but also the communities we serve,” Lesh said. She
added that this was done by leveraging Kaiser’s broad array of
assets to enable all business sectors of the organization to
focus on accomplishing this mission.
As Lesh pointed out, “Small paradigm shifts matter.” The
paradigm shift Kaiser has embraced is an understanding that the
underlying economic issues of a community are a health issue
that must be addressed through the strategic planning and design
of its healthcare facilities.
Lesh shared several examples of how healthcare real estate
decisions impact the community. A case study comparing South
L.A. and Irvine, Calif., an affluent community in Orange County,
revealed a vast disparity in the number of provider offices
available to the respective communities. In the Irvine area
there was one provider for every two members. In South L.A.
there was one provider for every 600 members. “We had
unintentionally redlined South L.A.,” Lesh noted.
On the other hand, the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Medical Offices
project—where 48% of the labor force was hired from within five
miles of the work site—is an example of how health systems can
create upstream economic development for a community.
Through its Watts Health & Learning Pavilion, Kaiser is now
seeking to maximize the economic impact for community health by
creating local jobs, providing a free and open community space
and focusing on sustainability, all through thoughtful design
and real estate acquisition.
As healthcare campuses continue their push toward more
outpatient care, recognition of this impact becomes increasingly
crucial. As Alan Whitson, president of Corporate Realty, Design
& Management Institute, noted in his presentation on healthcare
trends, the shift toward outpatient visits is accelerating, and
nowhere more so than in California. There physician visits are
on track to increase 217 percent faster than the population in
the five-county Southern California region. In fact, Whitson
noted, one in eight patient visits in the U.S. occur in
California. And as the population ages, there will be more
demand for healthcare services—and a dramatic impact on
healthcare economics as Baby Boomers move increasingly from
private insurers to Medicare.
So what does this mean for future healthcare facility designs?
Panelists David Chung, executive vice president, Western US, for
Anchor Health Properties, and Jeff West, senior regional
director, Real Estate & Construction, of Providence Health,
pointed to a few ways that buildings will need to change. Among
the biggest demands is to see flexible healthcare facilities as
the standard of future designs. In areas like Los Angeles, where
demographics are so diverse, the front-of-the-house design needs
to be flexible enough to accommodate the many needs of its
patients. Imagine, for example, an MOB where primary care is the
focus one week and specialties in demand the next week.
Each of these presenters also encouraged healthcare systems to
focus less on “opulent, sprawling campuses” and more on
efficiency and utility. Efficiency will be the key for the
design of these facilities, and will be rethought as technology
helps boost efficiency in patient visits.
As Whitson puts it, the average medical visit takes about two
hours, and yet patients only spend about 20 minutes with a
physician. Too much time is and money is being wasted on
inefficiencies that can be improved with technology—and
To read the full event takeaways, visit