The specialty of healthcare master planning is going through a series of changes, mirroring the current evolution of the healthcare industry itself.

What’s particularly interesting about this is the comprehensive nature of these types of initiatives, which may include several new components such as connecting the traditional hospital campus with related medical services near and far.

To understand this shift is to gain insight into what a hospital’s board of directors and C-suite team are thinking about when it comes to their facilities. Here are some topics worth discussing with them:

1. Focus and update master plans frequently.
With the rapid changes within the industry, healthcare organizations must be more agile and flexible in their design and facility-related discussions. The trend towards outpatient services and hospital-employed physicians offer many more possible partnerships and business opportunities. In addition, the changing patient-centric and physician-centric orientation requires new strategic directions with more frequent master plan updates.

2. Conduct system-wide master plans for all sites and facilities that serve patients.
As healthcare systems have grown over the last decade, their facilities that serve and treat patients are often an eclectic mix of new, aged, and acquired facilities. In addition, as many physicians and physician groups are now employed by healthcare organizations, their facilities have become part of the hospital’s facility asset portfolio. All of these factors result in a myriad of market service conditions and demographics for these systems to integrate. Similarly, from a facility perspective, systems end up with a myriad of physical plant assets to maintain, manage, and integrate into their respective master planning process.

3. Engage a hospital’s neighborhood and community in the planning process.
Throughout recent years, there’s been a movement toward hospitals being viewed as an important community asset with an outpatient and wellness focus. This has been translated in many ways and, in particular, by providing on-campus parks and wellness amenities. We no longer think of the hospital as a place to go only when we are sick or in need of medical care; we now think of the neighborhood as a community where it’s a healthy, fun, and social place where we live and work.

4. Provide planning solutions for population health and wellness.
A comprehensive strategy for population health includes both on-campus and off-campus facility solutions for patients, visitors, caregivers, staff, physicians, and the community at large. These wellness solutions include diagnostics, treatment, fitness, and education. When population health and wellness criteria are in the master planning process and execution, appropriate facility recommendations are implemented.

5. Utilization of focused master planning to validate required Phase 1 projects.
With limited capital available for facility construction projects, it’s very important to ensure that the implementation of every projects fits within the framework of the master plan. It’s now considered a responsible practice to analyze and test Phase 1 projects by utilizing a focused master planning process to validate specific projects prior to implementation. This type of planning process is often utilized to determine the most appropriate project solutions so capital will be expended for its best use.

You’ve most likely either participated in creating a master plan or have been exposed to one in your practice or healthcare organization. So when considering these concepts one at a time, they may not seem that significant of change at first. However, collectively, these represent a significant evolution to a traditional process that has been a mainstay of the healthcare industry for decades.

So what have been your experiences? Let’s continue the dialogue and contribute to this important evolution.

For more on the evolution of master planning, see the following blogs from Healthcare Design: