Over the past few years, the editors of Health Facilities Management (HFM) have dedicated much coverage to the health care organization’s move off the main hospital campus and into the community.

Indeed, this was covered extensively in last year’s Hospital Construction Survey as well as an entire Trends in Health Care issue in December 2013.

One of the more interesting aspects of these initiatives is the ingenuity employed by health facilities professionals who, in many cases, repurpose existing retail outlets, office buildings and other facilities to provide health care services. Of course, these moves also leave empty spaces in the resulting leaner and higher-acuity hospitals that also need to be redeployed.

Explored more fully in this year’s Hospital Construction Survey, conducted by HFM in conjunction with the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) and sponsor Forbo Flooring Systems, it seems health care organizations are spending a great deal of energy figuring out how to reconfigure parts of their existing acute care facilities. The survey, which is the focus of this month’s cover story, finds that inpatient spaces are being repurposed for administrative, ambulatory and observational uses, among others.

While such projects are practical and economically sound, they also bring to mind the need for health facilities professionals to consider all possible uses when the next generation of new acute care hospital projects come off the boards and onto the construction sites.

One of the themes of ASHE’s International Summit & Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design & Construction, which will be held next month in San Antonio, is that flexibility has become a health care design goal as future needs become more difficult to predict. As covered in this month’s Compliance+Operations article, this flexibility goes far beyond the basic floor plan of a building to include site planning and infrastructure requirements as well.

Although most health facilities professionals currently have their hands full with off-campus construction and adaptive reuse of existing spaces, flexible design will continue to gain popularity as the industry turns its attention back to new hospital construction.