Rapid Scenario Testing: Streamlining strategic planning and untangling complex design decisions

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Jann Gao, Matt Delehey and Jiyoon Park

July 9, 2024

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When a healthcare system is looking to build a centerpiece facility, the aspiration is to facilitate transformation, improve care experience, heighten brand awareness, create efficiencies across the institution and more. 

Navigating this strategic planning process is seldom straightforward, prompting numerous questions and interconnected decisions such as:

  • Should we build new or renovate an underutilized facility?
  • Should it be on the main campus or branch out into a community with a growing population?
  • What is our budget? What new build size can we afford? Which services should be prioritized?
  • How many patients need to be seen at this facility for it to align with financial proformas?

And many, many more.

Instead of addressing these questions by creating many spreadsheets of potential pros and cons and varying budget implications, Blue Cottage of CannonDesign uses an advanced analytics tool called Rapid Scenario Testing (RST). RST empowers health system executives and their facilities departments to effortlessly filter and manipulate data displays according to their specific parameters. With real-time updates and customizable features, Rapid Scenario Testing facilitates informed, agile decision-making that is essential for driving key business initiatives.

Rapid Scenario Testing

The “rapid” feature of RST is accentuated by parallel workstreams being able to progress simultaneously during a building planning project. For instance, rather than holding off on site and massing considerations until programming is finalized, the RST tool integrates all puzzle pieces seamlessly. Every aspect is entered into the Rapid Scenario Testing dashboard simultaneously, enabling immediate analysis by the Blue Cottage team and key project stakeholders such as system leadership, design and construction leaders, planners, architects, engineers, cost estimators and others.


What is the value of adding Rapid Scenario Testing to a project?

The biggest value lies in the real-time insights informed by the collaborative process this tool brings to the project team. It allows and requires many disciplines to work seamlessly with each other, and during this process, removes silos by connecting all inputs into one platform, and speeds up the process to generate new facility scenarios for deliberation and decision making.

Recently deployed at a healthcare organization that was looking to add a bed tower and expand its existing campus, Rapid Scenario Testing provided options quickly after all key parameters were customized for the organization’s unique conditions. Whether it's a focused bed expansion or a comprehensive enhancement involving critical care components like surgical platforms, an emergency department and support facilities, leaders can efficiently assess size and cost implications of changes to operations, growth, strategy, or economic conditions. This proves particularly valuable for extensive capital projects where delays impact both operational and financial assumptions. RST enables high-level estimation of building size, construction costs, equipment costs, soft costs, enabling project costs and more.

Rapid Scenario Testing can add value to major capital projects in early strategy, planning, and pre-design processes, or during the project design phase. This analytics tool can handle concurrent scenarios by many users at the same time. The ability to run various scenarios as they arise leads to faster decision making in facility planning processes.

While Rapid Scenario Testing excels in efficiently analyzing complex scenarios, its effectiveness hinges on the initial provision of the right data and input from various stakeholders, including operations, facilities, cost consultants, and clinical teams. All these factors influence one another — and RST inputs them into one platform to create a project size and budget. 

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The Blue Cottage approach

Blue Cottage of CannonDesign approaches every project with a data-driven mindset and a diverse team of professionals with clinical, organizational, design, and strategic expertise. Rapid Scenario Testing is an augmentation to that approach, allowing teams to work even more collaboratively, transparently, and adaptably. Ultimately, healthcare systems using RST can deliver lasting solutions by iterating on ideas faster and building confidence with robust recommendations.