Deb Sheehan, Executive Director of CannonDesign’s Health Practice, is featured in a recent article from Becker’s Hospital Review titled, “To build of not to build? That is the question for hospitals and health systems.”

The article seeks multiple perspectives on how the healthcare industry’s shifting focus on lowering costs and treating patients on a more preventative basis is impacting where the healthcare industry is investing in the United States. Though recent reports indicate the medical construction market should see sustained activity in the near future due to the country’s aging population, hospitals are being forced to make very strategic decisions about where, how, and to what extent to invest. With a wealth of experience having overseen more than $4 billion in design solutions for healthcare systems worldwide, Sheehan was able to offer a number of insights, including the following excerpts:

On CannonDesign’s shifting role as an advisor
“We’re there to support our clients, not just when they have a capital project to build but also when they’re trying to reposition their services and look at the impact of operations and how real estate plays a role in that,” said Sheehan.

For CannonDesign, advising starts by understanding the physicians, clinicians, patients and staff operate in the hospital’s existing space. The firm goes through lean workflow analysis by making flow maps of the current state process and behaviors, and then taking them through an optimized state with regards to performance improvement in workflows for care delivery.

On the role of operations and process improvement
“I’ll be frank, there are times when our clients came to us thinking they needed to expand or add square footage, and the report we end up giving back says expansion isn’t going to help” said Sheehan. “Oftentimes, if the processes are in need of help and support, just adding on more real estate, more construction and more square footage only exasperates an operation or process problem and makes it worse.”

On Inpatient Platform Growth
One area of acute-care platform investments Ms. Sheehan has seen grow comes in the form of intensive care and higher acuity spaces. Reason being, the profile of patients in the hospital is becoming increasingly critical.

The full Becker’s Hospital Review piece can be read online here.