After attending several educational sessions last month at the ASHE PDC Summit in Tampa, Florida, it occurred to me that there was no escaping the “E-word”—efficiency.

In every facet of the healthcare construction and engineering industry, it’s the rabbit everyone wants to pull out of their hat. The trick is figuring out how to be innovative enough to deliver the level of efficiency healthcare systems are certain to expect, especially in the shadow of healthcare reform.

On my final day at the conference, I sat in on the session “Planning for Innovation in Hospital Design: Think Like an ACO for a Better, Faster CON.” Panelists discussed the planning concepts that will be required as health systems work toward consolidating facilities in the creation of accountable care organizations (ACOs), while at the same time reducing redundancies.

One key to this lies in the network of services health systems will look to offer—outside of the hospital. My takeaway on how this affects the construction/engineering space is twofold. One, if something is going to be built, it may very well not be a hospital at all. And, two, as even larger Kaiser-esque systems are created, it’s not just additional facilities that will need to be integrated, but technology as well.

The crux of the matter is that we as an industry simply may not be building as much, but rather organizing. What do you think your role will be in this process?