When we asked readers about the climate of the healthcare market in 2013 as part of Healthcare Design’s annual Corporate Rankings Survey, there were still a lot of unknowns. Respondents shared lingering questions on what the post-reform environment would bring—specifically, the impact it would have on healthcare organizations’ capital budgets and how that would trickle down to work (or lack of work) for A/E/C firms.

Overall, it was a lot of “wait and see.” But now that we’re here in 2014, the waiting is just about over. It’s time to see what we've got.

Advisory firm The Camden Group’s Steven Valentine wrote his “Top 10 Healthcare Trends to Watch in 2014.” It provides a good perspective on healthcare as a business, and inspires some thinking about how these conditions will touch our healthcare design space.

Of the 10, here are four I found particularly worth noting and how I think they might affect the A/E/C community:

1. “New care and payment models will continue to develop and expand”—Valentine says to expect a trend toward shared savings, or rather incentives for physicians based on lowering cost and improving quality and patient satisfaction. We all know the built environment can play a role in satisfaction, from improving throughput and reducing wait times to providing a quiet patient room and creating spaces for physician-patient interaction. Add in Valentine’s projection that health systems will need to adapt their care processes to support coordinated care delivery, and our healthcare buildings come into play even more. Designers will likely be tasked with creating collaborative work environments that support models like the patient-centered medical home.

2. “Consolidation of providers will continue … the big will get bigger”—The pressures of reform and the shift to a value-based business model will likely be too much for some organizations, and Valentine projects we’ll continue to see plenty of mergers and acquisitions. For those doing the acquiring, there will be a lot to think about when it comes to facility planning, from repurposing buildings to rebranding new sites.

3. “Expect continued deployment of new technology”—With a push toward population health management, Valentine says systems will be focused on telehealth, e-visits, mobile apps, data storage, etc. And as those mergers and acquisitions continue, providers will be pressed to find an IT system for all. While technology projects may likely absorb plenty of available capital, there are design ramifications for this trend that will need addressed, too, like creating spaces where physicians can perform those virtual visits or building data centers where all that information can be stored.

4. “Health systems and hospitals will continue to expand their continuum of care within their market”—The expansion of ambulatory care services isn’t going anywhere, Valentine says. Furthermore, he sees the focus falling on the post-acute space. Expect to see projects in home health, hospice, and palliative care, with existing acute care spaces considered for renovations to post-acute skilled nursing, rehab, or even step-down units.

What’s on your radar for the year? Do these trends match up with what you’re seeing?