In this series, Healthcare Design asks leading healthcare design professionals, firms, and owners to tell us what’s got their attention and share some ideas on the subject.

Michael Lied is a principal and director of healthcare for GBBN Architects (Cincinnati). Here, he shares his thoughts on using design to build brand loyalty and how the first five minutes in a facility can be the most critical.

1. Brand loyalty must run deep

Building and maintaining market share is increasingly important in today’s healthcare landscape. As hospital systems respond to the demands of new models for the continuum of care, it’s essential to understand the patient and family experience throughout the entire engagement. Logos and PR build brand awareness, but well-designed facilities coupled with exceptional care create a dynamic patient experience that builds customer loyalty.

2. Balance innovation and risk

Challenging the norm is a given for our leading clients as they must continually improve and stay ahead of the competition. While striving for innovation, most are concerned about being the first to try something new. Design professionals need to balance risk by helping clients make informed decisions, testing them along the way in a controlled environment before roll-out to a larger audience.  It takes time to measure and learn from process innovation, but the results can be well worth the initial investment.  

3. Flexibility remains king

I have yet to speak to a client who feels they can accurately forecast the future of healthcare. There are too many unknowns right now. However, there’s growing consensus on the need to prioritize flexibility to hedge against the risk of the unknown. This isn’t a new concept, but what’s different is the need to prioritize operational or service line flexibility versus just facility flexibility.  At Mercy Fairfield in Cincinnati, we utilized prefabricated modular headwalls and footwalls in a medical surgical inpatient unit to provide ease of access and the ability to change utilities without long downtime as rooms need to change.

4. Getting registration right

The first three to five minutes of the patient experience is critical to the overall impression of a health system. For this reason patient registration is becoming an increasingly important topic for our clients. This process requires solutions that accommodate technological challenges, operational implications, staffing requirements, and experiential considerations in order to create the unique experience that each health system strives to achieve.

5. Design must deliver on its value promise

It’s difficult to quantify value, but everyone knows it when they experience it. The greatest value in design occurs when creative solutions create places that solve operational demands, improve competitiveness, and enhance the quality of life through environments that aid in healing. As resources become increasingly stretched, our clients look for their service providers to become trusted advisors who bring more to the table. It’s exciting to see how new technologies, creative ideas, openness to process improvement, and great design can provide value, enhance the healthcare experience, and facilitate  better outcomes.

Michael Lied


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