The Avallone File
- Vice president, board-certified health care architect and senior medical planner, SmithGroup, San Francisco.
- Associate vice president, board-certified health care architect and senior medical planner, HGA, San Francisco
- Senior associate, senior medical planner, architect, Chong Partners Architecture, San Francisco
- Medical planner/architect, KMD Architects, San Francisco
- Project architect, HLM Design, Chicago
- American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA) president and board of regents.
- ACHA past co-chair of communications and outreach committee.
- American Institute of Architects (AIA), San Francisco chapter, past co-chair of health and science committee.
- AIA Academy of Architecture for Health member.
- American Society for Health Care Engineering member.
- NCARB and LEED AP BD+C certificate holder.
- California Division of the State Architect certified access specialist.
- Bachelor of Architecture at University of Illinois at Chicago.
As president of the American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA), Vince Avallone, AIA, ACHA, ASHE, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, CASp, is overseeing an organization that has increased its engagement while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. This month, he talks to Health Facilities Management about these and other challenges.
When did you first get involved in health care architecture?
Shortly after graduating from the University of Illinois at Chicago, I was fortunate to land an entry-level position at a well-known Chicago health care architecture firm, Hansen Lind Meyer (HLM). I quickly absorbed an appreciation for health care architecture and planning thanks to strong medical planning leadership. While at HLM, I had the opportunity to be part of a team working as the owner’s outsourced facility design group for a local hospital. Looking back at that experience, I realize it became the foundation of my newly forming career. Working on-site, side-by-side with the owner and contractor, I was able to immerse myself in the operations, design and construction of healing environments where I felt I made a difference.
What changes have you seen in the field since then?
For one thing, the ACHA was born. We are the first and only organization to pioneer a specialty board-level architecture certification. I have seen an increase in credentialing through ACHA and across the industry as more architects and providers see the value of certification. I have also seen an increase in research-driven design and more awareness around resilient design and construction. Health care architects have responded to changing regulations, increased patient-centered and consumer-choice environments, reimbursement changes such as the Affordable Care Act, the introduction of Lean operations and health organization consolidations to help reduce health care spending. This is possible by embracing advanced 3D modeling technologies and economically driven collaborative project delivery approaches.
What are your objectives for the year as ACHA president?
As we celebrate our 20th year, ACHA has focused our attention around a strategic theme, “The Year of Engagement.” The theme aligns our goals to:
- Actively invite. ACHA has been and will always be inviting architects to certify their specialized health care experience and knowledge with the ACHA credential. Sharing in our diversity and thought leadership within our committees, our regions and at a national level is vitally important. The ACHA also invites our certificate holders to join our much-valued committees.
- Nurture alliances. ACHA is proud to be one of the Four Pillars, where we all share in the advancement of healing environments. The Four Pillars is a collaborative alliance between ACHA, the AIA Academy of Architecture for Health (AIA/AAH), the AAH Foundation and the Facility Guidelines Institute. Our collective mission is continued education, funding research, certification and effective guidelines.
- Polish processes. We are constantly thinking of ways to update our processes. In 2020, our initiatives include an increased social media presence, a new digital platform for more streamlined certifications, enhanced certification application pathways and a new continuing competency educational outline.
How will this emphasis on engagement influence your relationships with certificate holders?
This year, we launched ACHA Testimonials and Key Member Profiles on our website at healtharchitects.org to showcase our certificate holders and their commitment to health care architecture. Our board-certified architects are the core of who we are as an organization. We celebrate all our certificate holders and their dedication to the profession as we collectively set a high bar for health care design. We invite certificate holders and candidates to engage with peers and clients by sharing their stories of how ACHA-certified architects continue to make a difference. We strive to personalize our relationship with each other and collectively.
How will increased engagement affect relations with ACHA candidates?
This year we are launching our Career Arc Committee. Its primary task is to engage candidates and certificate holders at all points along their health care architectural career. Their charter is to identify, communicate, and reinforce the value and role of the ACHA.
Initiatives include expanding methods to engage with potential, emerging and ACHA emeriti; developing programs for young and emerging professionals; communicating the mission and value of the ACHA; identifying ways to support and facilitate a candidate’s path to ACHA certification; and building connections and mentoring initiatives across the career arc between emerging candidates and experienced certificate holders.
What are your engagement goals with regard to constituent groups such as the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE)?
ACHA is honored to be recognized by ASHE as part of a comprehensive team of certified professionals. Together, we support each group’s mission and ultimately bring value to our shared health providers. We continue our proud support and involvement in ASHE’s PDC Summit annually. Our goal is to emphasize the importance of integrated health care architecture and engineering through our certifications. Seeing the ACHA and ASHE credentials, health care providers can be assured that our certified professionals have the experience and knowledge to bring value to their facilities.
How do you think COVID-19 will affect the health care design profession?
The impact of COVID-19 has heightened the profession’s awareness of resiliency and emergency preparedness planning. Preparing for the unknown has always been a factor in health care design, and I predict it will become a more important priority long term. As with other trying times, this will ultimately foster positive changes in health care design and planning and will compel us to fine-tune our future regulations and facility guidelines. It has already sparked new product and engineering innovations. Most of all, this pandemic has forced us all to embrace digital technology more than ever before.
Looking further out, which changes do you see for health care and professionals in the design field?
Health care architects and designers will continue to respond to the increasing use of technology in care delivery and planning for the flexible use of facilities to accommodate it. I expect the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics on health care to accelerate. The “internet of things” and other AI technologies available today will be standard. Devices, some already available today, will assist providers in health screenings, simple lab testing and other diagnostics, all through computer-aided bot technology in a single visit. As care continues to shift into the increasingly advanced ambulatory setting, hospitals will focus on more acute and complex care, requiring even more specialized planning and design knowledge. The recognition of that expertise is at the core of ACHA’s mission.