It’s no secret that healthcare organizations across the country are shifting more and more services out of acute care settings. The move makes sense on a number of fronts, not least of which is the ability to reduce costs and improve outcomes all while increasing access and growing market share. “The sheer volume of clinics being considered and built now is a stunning difference in the last five to 10 years,” says Ted Shaw, associate principal at Perkins+Will (New York).
The development of clinics—the catch-all term for pretty much any site that provides outpatient care, according to those who build them—is further inspired by healthcare reform pressing the need for population health management, with providers more invested than ever in keeping people well. That mindset is requiring solutions like medical home models of care delivery and inspiring new builds and renovations that support collaborative, team-based environments, says Christine Guzzo Vickery, vice president at HGA Architects and Engineers (Minneapolis) and coauthor of Modern Clinic Design: Strategies for an Era of Change, published in 2015.
Although primary care is certainly a factor, Vickery says it’s mostly specialty and multispecialty practices behind the surge, including everything from women’s and children’s to sports medicine and orthopedic clinics. And colocating all providers involved in patients’ treatment plans under one roof goes a long way toward operational efficiency and, more important, patient satisfaction.
This current landscape is in large part the result of private physicians joining group practices at large healthcare systems and institutions creating specialty clinics to maximize their service offerings and broaden their reach. And exactly what shape those efforts take is key to providers differentiating themselves among the competition. “The nature of the design environment is seen as just as important as bringing services to the community; it’s bringing it in the right package,” Shaw says.