The word “hospital” can bring different images to mind. For those outside facility management, it’s usually a single facility: a single hospital campus in the center of town or a modern looking facility just out of town sitting in a former cornfield.

Over the past decade, the health care field has worked to bring care closer to our communities. As the field increasingly prioritizes patient-centered care and delivering the access that our patients need, hospitals and health care systems are building more facilities away from their larger hospitals and centralized campuses. Our challenge is to take the knowledge and experience we have in design, construction and operation of hospitals, clinics and ambulatory surgery sites to build a new model facility, one that is resilient and inexpensive to operate but which offers the same level of comfort and safety that our patients have come to expect. We need to figure out how to optimize these facilities today while ensuring we can adapt easily to whatever tomorrow will bring.

This will require a new level of creativity and collaboration among our project team members. At the International Summit & Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design & Construction in March, we saw that innovation at work in our student challenge as teams created plans to transform retail spaces into optimal health care facilities. These new spaces are a hot commodity in health care because of their prime locations and availability.

Another trend influencing the vision of health care is the rollout of new technology. The lightning-fast pace set by artificial intelligence and the enormous amount of data being collected and utilized to expedite the design process or improve our operations is something we should anticipate and embrace.

Ask yourself: 20 years from now, when a friend mentions the word “hospital” in a conversation, will you still visualize the large brick buildings at a medical center? Or will you see a new easy-access, home-like facility that embraces the needs of the patient and addresses the multicultural nature of our communities? 

The future starts with one thought, one conversation, one action: Are you ready to act?

Dean M. Pufahl, CHFM, CHC, ASHE President