At the beginning of 2014, Jeff Stouffer was named director of HKS Inc.’s (Dallas) healthcare practice. He succeeds Craig Beale, who served as director for 12 years and is continuing with the firm as part of its four-member executive committee and overseeing its international healthcare practice.

As Stouffer settles in to his new post, he shared his thoughts about healthcare architecture and steps to transform the industry in the new healthcare world.

1. Improvement requires change

Moving forward means evolving in response to new conditions. As healthcare delivery and reimbursement change, healthcare design must change as well. This doesn’t mean we’ve been doing things wrong; in fact, a strong foundation is what enables us to turn a period of transition into an opportunity for transformation.

2. Business relationships are now experiential, rather than purely transactional

One change that’s occurring in almost all areas of business is relationships are no longer based simply on purchasing goods or services. The business world is moving beyond treating professionals like commodities to a new model that’s focused more on the experience of working together. Learning the culture of a firm and meeting the people who will be involved with a project are very important to clients now. The chemistry clients feel with the project team has become a deciding factor of selection.

3. Investing in people yields performance excellence

Real knowledge expertise results in ever-higher quality work. At our firm, we developed HKS Smart Healthcare, an initiative focused on training, leadership development, and partnerships with industry experts in Lean operations and construction. We’re researching how to design facilities to support Lean operations and developing processes for building better.

4. Clarity and collaboration are essential to project success

Organizational clarity, as expressed through strategic planning and simplified processes, enables project teams to enhance the value they bring to clients with every service. Collaboration among market sectors, consultants, contractors, and peers also creates value. The increased emphasis on wellness in healthcare is highlighting the natural connections between healthcare design and the education, sports and entertainment, and hospitality fields. Project delivery methods, such as integrated project delivery (IPD) and design-build, are based on partnerships.

5. Innovation is born of teamwork

Innovation doesn’t arise from a single superstar; it’s developed at the grassroots level by the entire team. Connectivity is needed to support teams and inspire the innovation that clients demand. This means that services can’t operate as independent profit centers and there can’t be silos walling off communication. The goal is to deliver services seamlessly while enhancing the experience of clients.

Jeff Stouffer is director of HKS’s healthcare practice. He can be reached at