Hospitals across America have been in a constant state of change for the last 20 years. Delivery of services has changed as often as payment for services have been modified. With major changes on the horizon for how hospitals receive payment along with the potential inclusion of some 30 million new customers, healthcare institutions are gearing up for another revolution and parking stands in the middle.
Two things have always been constant in hospital planning: Patient care is the number one priority and everyone needs a place to park. While the administration plans strategy for maintaining patient care, they must also understand how the changing dynamic of healthcare delivery impacts parking. This is why parking is often a second thought. Like the old saying, “When you are up to your neck in alligators, it is hard to remember your mission was to drain the swamp,” many healthcare institutions fail to keep the parking ball in the air when they are concentrating on so many others.
This article is intended to provide a simple way to assess parking needs while keeping a focus on customer service. Since parking is not just about patients, the customer service focus allows hospitals to keep an eye on all of its constituencies.
Where do you begin?
Parking allocation is the first question to be addressed. Since the front door has changed at many hospitals over the last 10 years, campus parking was forced to evolve. It is only logical to understand that the most convenient parking is located near the front door. Some institutions planned for this while others maintained the status quo. It is not simply a matter of location alone. User groups need to be defined, walking distances to final destination points analyzed, and demand projected.
The demand question is the wildcard today. With so much up in the air, accurate demand projections might seem to only be speculation. The parking demand formulas used by parking consultants in the past need to be modified. Parking demand under changing conditions can still be accurately projected with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 to 10%. However, your consultants need to use another tool-scenario planning. Not every parking consultant has this tool in their bag, but some do. Simply ask them how scenario planning would improve the process for modeling the parking needs of your campus. This should not be a “deer in the headlights” question.
Scenario planning is a process used by more companies today as the future is uncertain and many possibilities exist that can alter their business structure. Energy companies, for example, use scenario planning before deciding on new oil drilling ventures. They are looking into a future that is 20 years away.
Companies looking to profit from uncertain times realize that more than 50% of their success is dependent upon something other than their own actions. Scenario planning helps them gain a measure of control.
The healthcare industry is in the same boat. Your industry's actions account for only 10 percent. Economic conditions and government regulations account for 35%. Scenarios are powerful tools that could be used in all areas of health facility planning. Here is what they do for you:
anticipate emerging trends;
adapt to changing conditions;
identify and exploit opportunities;
outmaneuver competitors; and
grow revenue and increase profitability.
Hospitals planning campus parking needs for the future using scenarios will be better equipped to make cost-effective improvements as conditions change. The important thing to remember is unleashing innovation. Parking in the healthcare environment needs innovation in order to maintain a focus on customer service.