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.

Paul Braun is a principal at Gresham, Smith and Partners and serves as the healthcare practice leader based in its Richmond, Va., office. In response to estimates that healthcare construction project starts are estimated to range from $15 billion to $20 billion in 2015, Braun shares five areas where he thinks health system leaders can direct their focus in order to develop and move forward with a clear vision.

1. Research

The vision for any healthcare project should be research-based, with both external and internal research conducted. Through external research, our clients are better able to understand the market and the consumer, with insights into what is wanted and needed. Internal research into their organization provides a clearer look at the capabilities they have to meet those determined needs. Research can also help spark innovations that encourage loyalty and generate business.

2. Identity

As increased competition continues to fragment the marketplace, a healthcare organization’s identity becomes extremely important. Organizations need to determine who they are and who they’re striving to be. They need to ask themselves who are they attracting and what image they are projecting? Physical location, the staff, services offered, and facility design all play into this overall identity.

3. Strategy

Based on research and in support of a desired identity, a plan must be developed that includes both short- and long-term goals. Key objectives must be identified. Clearly defined costs and anticipated return-on-investment goals help create metrics that can be tracked and provide a tangible manner to measure success. One of the more successful projects I’ve been involved with included the development of a medical office building to establish a convenient outpatient zone on campus. The client’s predominant vision was to develop the facility to meet challenging pro forma requirements. The result is one of the most cost-effective projects I’ve seen.

4. Focus

Teams must remain focused on the core elements of the plan and vision. Using a simple and easy-to-understand plan can help to energize those within the organization, as well as outside consultants, design professionals, etc., who will be relied upon to execute the plan.

5. Action

Be direct and purposeful with your actions. Identify immediate steps and move quickly to implement them. Showcase progress, highlight successes, and understand change does not happen overnight. But, with a motivated team that understands the common vision and identified goals, expectations can be better defined and success more easily achieved.

Paul Braun

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