Making the Path of Egress the Path of Least Resistance in Healthcare Facilities
A consultant shares the lessons they learned after informing an architect that their newly designed hospital would require an ...
Nick Tournis, PMP and additional team members contributed to this article.
Our first blog post of the series addressed the critical role of empathetic decision-making when expanding, renovating, or developing a new healthcare facility. Through open dialogue and a deep understanding of project needs, our team of experienced consultants set the project journey in motion by minimizing assumptions among project team members, fostering curiosity and inclusivity, and encouraging a culture of continuous learning. As they champion against a one-size-fits-all consulting approach and strive to enhance patient care and staff experiences, our consultants collaborate with healthcare teams to provide a systematic method, create effective project roadmaps, navigate organizational adjustments, and manage potential roadblocks. They also stress the importance of their ongoing support and adaptability, emphasizing the continuous evolution of project needs and objectives.
Guiding healthcare organizations toward successful project execution and enhanced experiences for future patients and visitors begins by establishing an understanding and supportive environment for all project team members. Through initial kick-off meetings during the early planning phase, our consultants can learn about project intricacies, get to know the team members, and help set teams up for the project ahead of them. But how can consultants help a group of people with different roles and from varying backgrounds feel like their voices and experiences will be heard?
In this second blog post of the series, we delve into the crucial significance of fostering a cohesive project team right from the inception of a hospital project. By dispelling preconceived notions and nurturing an atmosphere encouraging awareness, we can cultivate intelligent teams capable of making design decisions rooted in empathy. Engaging this approach culminates optimal outcomes when the hospital finally commences operations for the ultimate beneficiaries - the patients and hospital staff.
In order to bridge the gaps between siloed teams and help them achieve collective success, our consultants perform the pre-work of understanding the project scope and team relationships. Introductory team meetings provide a great framework for identifying who will be involved in the project and learning about goals, initiatives, and standards. But, these meetings often do not make space for isolated teams and individuals to introduce their role in the project.
Though helping teams reduce assumptions about one another ultimately leads to a more cohesive and understanding project experience, that isn’t to say that there aren’t challenges that will be encountered while doing so. While working with previous clients, we have faced situations where their hands-on involvement has been turned down or they have been restricted from interacting with certain stakeholders. Rather than being dismissed in these moments, we establish a unified front and take time to emphasize that our practices and approach are what will save clients money down the road.
In addition to assisting in the team-building process, our consultants ensure that clients have a strong foundation and the right resources to support their teams.
Helping clients identify their project team and understand the future resource loading required to support a new facility are crucial tasks that we perform in the early stages of a healthcare project. However, the cornerstone of such successful teams isn't just resources; it is empathy and understanding. The goal is to encourage open dialogue and foster a culture of curiosity rather than presumption - it’s about building bridges of understanding in places where gaps and misinterpretation previously existed.
The power of an empathetic and intelligent healthcare project team is immense - they can provide patient-centered care with greater sensitivity, communicate with each other more effectively, and develop solutions that truly address the nuanced needs of the patients they serve. By actively reducing assumptions in the way project teams interact and communicate, we can foster an environment that is both inclusive and effective.
Because project aspects such as budgets, incorporating new technology, and meeting deadlines are often seen as top priorities, using a human-centric approach is often overlooked by traditional consulting firms. By building genuine relationships with stakeholders and hospital staff, our team assists clients in assembling clever and compassionate teams that will be running their newly designed healthcare facilities and better serving future patients and visitors.
Once the project team is united, we can begin the hard but rewarding work of reducing assumptions about the end-user experience. More often than not, our consultants have heard the phrase, “This is the way we’ve always done it,” when inquiring about facility operations. After working on a number of large-scale healthcare projects, our team has learned that the more preconceived notions a project team has, the more project aspects need to be validated. To save both time and money and make better project decisions, it is necessary to implement tactics that reduce assumptions and break down barriers between the project team, the healthcare facility staff, and patients.
We believe that achieving growth and exceeding expectations occurs during uncomfortable moments. When standard consultants routinely apply the same practices to each project, they likely achieve results that are only meeting a portion of the project team’s end-user goals. This could result in technology that is installed but never utilized by hospital staff, missed opportunities for added security measures, or newly built rooms that need to be reconstructed because two teams weren’t aligned. We challenge clients to deviate from these conventional consulting practices with the aim of designing health care facilities that function optimally for patients and staff alike.
As technology consultants, we can lead integral exercises, like walking an operational floor with nursing staff and department heads, to learn how, when, and where technology is used. This exercise provides insight into how we can enhance the technology plan in a way that directly benefits the hospital staff while meeting stakeholder goals. These ‘day in the life’ exercises simultaneously build trust among project team members by providing the opportunity to actively listen to staff needs and concerns while observing them in action.
As we introduce new technologies that will impact clinical workflow, it is important to run through mock 'day in the life' simulations that include the new technologies that will be implemented to see how they will benefit and potentially impact the existing workflow. Once updated workflows are confirmed, continuous testing and training with hospital staff is imperative to confirm that technologies selected will support and enhance new workflows and operations and ultimately better serve patients and visitors.
Implementing tried and true tactics and using lessons learned from past projects allows our team to better cultivate an understanding and empathetic working environment that will serve as a cohesive place of healing for patients.
Healthcare buildings have been ‘smart’ since the early 2000s, meaning they started to produce data that allows them to track statistics like visitor flow, technology use, security incidents, and more. However, smart buildings are only as intelligent as the teams interpreting this data to make the whole healthcare system operate more effectively and efficiently. In order to support building operations, stakeholders, leaders, and project managers need to make certain that they are choosing the right systems, technology, tools, and products that can be used to get the information that they need.
Stay tuned for the next blog post in this series that will address the importance of getting the right tools and processes in place before transitioning into the design phases of a project.
To learn more about how our healthcare technology experts can support your project needs, contact us today!