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Five Mistakes to Avoid in Healthcare Facility Planning

By Cindy Juhas | February 12, 2016

The last several decades have seen the rise of an immersive experience in the design of publicly accessed facilities such as theme parks, retail spaces, and healthcare facilities. Yes, you read that right! Designing and planning a healthcare facility isn't all that different from planning a theme park.  

There are lessons to be learned from examining how other publicly accessed facilities successfully incorporate cutting edge technology, integrate information delivery, address traffic flow, and create a variety of dedicated spaces.

Careful and thoughtful facility planning is essential to creating an immersive experience that meets the needs of patients, visitors, and staff.

As healthcare facilities embark on the planning process, there are certain common mistakes that should certainly be avoided:

1. Not choosing a facility planning manager  Why undertake this process without the leadership of an industry expert? A facility planning manager is specially equipped to fast track the process toward a more efficient completion while ensuring that the needs of patients, visitors, and staff are met. The healthcare facility planning process involves a variety of considerations and requirements and this manager can handle all updates with a deep knowledge and experience base.

2. Underestimating facility circulation systems  The circulation system of any healthcare facility aids patients, providers, and support staff while helping to ensure smooth day-to-day operations.  This system must integrate:

  • Varying patient requirements  Not all patients require the same needs be met.  An efficient circulation system meets both inpatient and outpatient needs.

  • Travel distances  Travel distances should be as short as possible for patients, visitors, providers, and support staff.

  • Traffic flow  Consider how every person that uses the facility will move throughout it.  Take the time to ensure that the traffic patterns are efficient.

  • Signage  Clear signage and directions are essential for patients, visitors, and staff.  Make sure the signs are clearly visible throughout the traffic patterns.

  • Infection Control  An increasing need for infection prevention protocols require careful patient control.  Establishing separate areas aids in reducing infection risks.

  • Special access needs  While your healthcare facility is obviously legally required to provide full and equal access to people with disabilities, don't overlook special access needs throughout the interior spaces. For example, consider visitors and patients that require motorized mobility units such as scooters or power chairs.

    Are the hallways and doorways wide enough for safe access? Have you reduced the amount of tight corners required to get between public spaces and treatment areas? How will these motorized units affect space planning in public spaces such as waiting rooms and dining areas?

3. Failing to upgrade current equipment and technology  Today’s healthcare industry is constantly changing and adapting to new technology and new cutting edge equipment. During the renovation planning process of an existing facility, it is vital to understand how technology and equipment can be updated.  This will help ensure the facility meets the needs of patients, improves efficiencies, and is compatible with other providers and facilities.

4. Forgetting about public spaces  Many times the planning process doesn’t pay enough attention to public spaces.   The appearance, design, and attention to detail in public spaces should convey trust, comfort, and a sense of healing.  Public spaces include information and reception desks, outside entries, restrooms, and waiting rooms.

5. Leaving support services out of the planning  A healthcare facility is more than just public spaces and treatment areas.  It includes a variety of support systems that also benefit from updated and integrated spaces.  Don’t forget about food preparation, administrative offices, staff’s private spaces, storage and cleaning of equipment, and custodial requirements during the planning process.  

Take the time to consult with a variety of professionals that use the facility on a daily basis.  Ask questions such as, “What improvements are necessary for you to do your job more efficiently?” and “How could the facility’s integration of space be improved or adapted?”

As a medical distributor, we appreciate careful and thoughtful healthcare facility planning. Our team at CME is committed to helping you outfit your new, renovated, and expanded facilities.  We understand our role in the facility planning process, and are proud to work alongside others in the healthcare industry.

If you need help with procurement or if you are in need of our direct-to-site services, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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About CME: CME Corp is the nation’s premier source for healthcare equipment, turnkey logistics, and biomedical services, representing 2 million+ products from more than 2,000 manufacturers.

With two corporate offices and 35+ service centers, our mission is to help healthcare facilities nationwide reduce the cost of the equipment they purchase, make their equipment specification, delivery, installation, and maintenance processes more efficient, and help them seamlessly launch, renovate and expand on schedule.

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