Our team recently had the opportunity to attend Bisnow’s 2019 National Healthcare South conference in late February. The event united a remarkable group of healthcare leaders from Houston and across Texas to share thoughts about what’s next for patients, providers, health systems and communities.

There were numerous thought-provoking presentations our team was able to attend, and we’ve summarized some key takeaways from the event below. For each takeaway, we connect ideas around how design will play a role in supporting its impact in the future.

Health Systems Recognize Consumers Pay for Value, Not Medical Events
A dominant trend echoed multiple times during the Bisnow Summit is the impact consumerism is having on healthcare nationwide. Whereas patients may have simply headed to their nearest care facility in the past, today’s healthcare consumers are savvier, more engaged and more empowered than ever before. They evaluate options online, they read real-time reviews of surgeons and systems, they seek transparency, value, convenience and memorable experiences for every dollar they spend on their healthcare.  New entrants like CVS, with their MinuteClinic Model, and Amazon only amplify competition in healthcare and put more pressure on health systems to respond to growing consumerism.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways design can help health providers bolster their experiential offerings and lure today’s consumers. Possible design responses include:

University of Minnesota Health Clinics and Surgery Center

  • Consider Modular Design: One thing we know about consumer preferences is they can change rapidly, and health systems that can adapt to these changes quickly can enhance competitive positioning. Modular design, which employs modular “parts” that can be inserted and reconfigured as needed, can help health systems achieve this level of adaptability. In addition to increased adaptability, health systems leveraging modular design also can achieve substantial costs savings, accelerated speed-to-market and revenue capture, reduced risk and predictable final outcomes.
  • Amplify Wellness Opportunities: Wellness is important to many of today’s consumers in new ways. Empowered to track their every step and deeply educated about what influences their mental health, today’s health consumers are drawn to spaces that embrace natural daylight, nature and other stimulants for positive wellness experiences. As one example from our recent portfolio, UC San Diego Health’s Jacobs Medical Center eliminates 90-degree turns to ensure more natural movement while also integrating extensive exterior gardens and terraces for patients, their families and staff.

Considering and deploying some of these strategies will help health systems leverage design to further appeal to today’s savvy health consumers.

Invest in Technology that Ensures Patient Safety
Patient safety is paramount for health systems, and the Bisnow event touched on exciting new technology investments that enhance our collective ability to ensure it. Just as consumers are now able to track their health and wellness in new ways, providers can use technology to track new data: stress levels of surgeons in the OR, breaks in sterility, quantity and impact of distractions. Armed with this data, providers can then develop strategies to further decrease hospital-acquired infections, limit distractions, help surgeons stay calm at all times and more.

Design already plays an integral role in existing patient safety strategies. As new technologies and data become available, design firms can help health systems properly locate these devices to ensure they themselves don’t become distracting. Furthermore, design responses will be key to helping health systems deliver solutions based on the new data they’ve achieved. Distractions, hospital-acquired infections, etc. – design can be a powerful tool in fighting these concerns. Now, enhanced data collection will help us leverage it impactful new ways.

Everybody’s Focused on Telehealth
Extensive conversation at the National Healthcare South conference focused on telehealth and its ability to help healthcare providers communicate with patients while expanding convenience and access while reducing costs for patients. Recent investment in faster internet connections, digital communications tech (ex: smartphones and iPads) and improved insurance reimbursement are fueling key growth for telehealth across the country. Our team recently wrote a tactical report all about telehealth and associated reimbursement strategies.

Telehealth communication most often falls within one of four categories: Live Video, Store-and-Forward, Remote Patient Monitoring and Mobile Health. Each type of healthcare requires an electronic means of communication, compliant security, and, in some cases, remote devices. Several companies have emerged in each area to accommodate the services, and today some healthcare providers have integrated well enough to offer all of them in one place. As states further define their reimbursement policies and technology and infrastructure investments grow, telehealth popularity will become ever more useful to health systems.

From a design perspective, shifts toward telehealth translate to potential impacts on daily and annual in-person patient throughput. This can free up existing space for new service or staff wellness opportunities. Moreover, these new technologies require equipment planning and change management strategies to ensure they are located and used properly.

Bisnow’s 2019 National Healthcare South conference proved an exciting event ripe with dynamic speakers and inspiring ideas for the future. We were thrilled to attend, and excited about how design can play a key role in advancing our collective health and wellness in the decades and generations ahead.