By Mike McMahan and Alena Sakalouski Johnson, AIA, ACHA in Minnesota Physician
Multiple factors, including internal dynamics and outside forces, have in recent years created a tipping point in the health care industry. The Affordable Care Act, private equity, tax reform, payer disruptions, new health care industry entrants, and skilled worker shortages have created new challenges for health organizations across the United States. COVID-19 now poses a unique challenge to the health care industry. Changes in how patients seek care, care avoidance, and the move toward a more value-based model have impacted how physical environments look and function. This in turn has caused the need for health systems, hospitals, and provider groups to quickly rethink their facilities to provide both the capacity for innovation and social distancing considerations with the flexibility to foster an uncompromised level of patient care and financial sustainability.
Recent experiences in managing the COVID-19 pandemic have emphasized the role of unified data in evaluating levels of readiness and formulating rapid response in the health care environment. The regulatory answer to the pandemic is certain to require that health care facilities adopt current and evolving best practices to ensure flexibility, adaptability, and heightened infection prevention measures in all patient care spaces. Health care leaders everywhere are learning to synthesize data from all available sources to inform decisions that literally save lives in their community. The stakes could not be higher, nor the need greater, for data-informed decisions, efficient design, and strong leadership.