Construction, Operations and Real Estate
Experts Share Strategies for Success at Florida’s Hospital,
Outpatient Facilities & MOB Summit
Flexibility and informed decision-making will be central to
success as the healthcare industry continues the rapid path of
change set in recent years. This was one of the takeaways of
Florida’s Hospital, Outpatient Facilities & MOB Summit 2018,
organized by SquareFootage.net and co-hosted by the Health Care
Institute, as reported by Dan Tracy. The event took place in
Orlando in April.
In his session on what’s driving healthcare,
Alan Whitson, president of Corporate Realty, Design & Management
Institute, pointed out that significant change is yet on the
horizon. “If that scares you, it should,” he said.
The biggest changes are all about numbers, as
inpatient stays continue to drop, even as stays become longer
because those patients who are admitted will be sicker.
As Whitson pointed out, inpatient stays at
hospitals peaked nationally in 2008 at more than 35 million,
then dropped to about 33 million in 2014. “Length of stay is a
fast turnover,” Whitson said.
The “Right” Location Still an Evolving
All drivers continue to indicate that health
systems looking to expand should focus on outpatient and
facilities, with costs largely driving the switch from hospital
beds to outpatient facilities. Whitson’s advice to healthcare
providers? “Do more for less. Be smart about it.”
In fact, occupancy rates at healthcare
facilities outside of hospitals are holding steady at 90 to 92
percent, said Michael Noto, senior vice president, Real Estate
Services, for Welltower. That trend likely will hold because
Boomers don’t want to go to hospitals unless they have to.
As Noto added, “We all know outpatient is the
word of the day.”
Karl Hodges, vice president of Concord
Healthcare, echoed this sentiment as he encouraged listeners to
“follow the patient” when siting new facilities. “Nobody wants
to drive downtown and park in a big garage,” Hodges said.
Instead, healthcare providers are increasingly building
facilities in the suburbs and small towns because that’s where
the patients are.
But these experts continue to predict that the
future will hold more virtual visits, where patients Skype or
FaceTime a doctor or nurse rather than going to an office or
“The whole idea of bricks and mortar will go
away,” predicted Jody Barry, formerly VP/Facilities &
Construction, Adventist Care Centers and Administrative
Director/Strategic Development for Florida Hospitals.
It’s for this reason that assisted living
facilities may not be a smart play in the future, added Noto.
“The convergence of technology will chill demand for healthcare
real estate. We are going to want to stay in our homes and
technology will allow us to do that,” he said.
Strategies for Smarter Decision-making
So how can healthcare systems “get smarter”
about building these new facilities? Experts at the April event
offered this insight:
Be careful during the design stage, when
conflicting agendas can cause problems. Tamara Rice, Manager
Architectural Design and Planning, Tampa General Hospital,
encouraged decision-makers to pick their priorities
carefully. Do you want to contain costs or build what the
patients and medical staff ultimately will need? “The code
is always changing. It’s very expensive to go back and make
changes,” Rice said.
When done carefully, with upfront research,
remodeling or repurposing existing buildings into healthcare
operations can be a way to keep costs down. “If we don’t
have a (profit) margin, we don’t have a mission,” commented
William J. Hercules, President/CEO, WJH and 2018 President,
American College of Healthcare Architects.
Building analytics on necessities like energy
performance and equipment maintenance are critical for
reducing costs. “Put the right data in front of the right
people,” and you can save money, pointed out Daniel McGinn,
Director Life Sciences & Healthcare Segment, Schneider
Improving project management processes can
drive major cost reductions. According to Dan Conery of
e-Builder, roughly 92 percent of healthcare construction
projects are late, 85 percent are over budget and 63 percent
have quality deficiencies when they open. One reason for
those abysmal results is poor project management. “You need
clearly defined job roles and consistent communication,”
For additional takeaways from the summit,