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What's in a building: How your peers are redesigning their medical oncology clinics

December 9, 2016

    Many cancer programs are making big investments in their facilities to accommodate growing volumes, support new care delivery models, and attract patients and their families. Such undertakings are both time and resource intensive, with projects costing millions of dollars and taking as long as a decade to complete.

    To help you make informed decisions about your facility design strategy, we surveyed nearly 100 medical oncology clinics about their approach to renovation and construction. Read on for key insights.

    Cancer programs significantly more likely to renovate than rebuild

    Overall, cancer programs were significantly more likely to renovate their medical oncology clinics than to build new sites across the past three years (42% versus 8%).

    This is not surprising given that renovations are typically less costly than building a new clinic. However, cancer program leaders should carefully weigh the trade-offs and select the option that makes the most sense for their market.

    Other key considerations include location, projected volumes, time to completion, and degree of customization. For example, building a new site provides more flexibility and a greater degree of control over design.

    Freestanding cancer centers more likely to have been renovated or built in the past three years

    Overall, freestanding cancer centers (55%) and teaching hospitals (47%) were more likely than other types of facilities to have been renovated within the past three years. Similarly, freestanding cancer centers were also more likely to have been built within the past three years.

     Percentage of medical oncology clinics renovated or built in the past three years

    Facility type n % renovated within the past three years % built within the past three years
    Freestanding cancer center 11 55% 17%
    Academic medical center 31 39% 10%
    Non-teaching community hospital 36 39% 8%
    Teaching hospital 15 47% 0%
    Overall 93 42% 8%

    Newly renovated or built medical oncology clinics have more exam rooms and are bigger overall

    Not surprisingly given steadily increasing patient volumes, medical oncology clinics that were renovated or built within the past three years had more exam rooms than older facilities.

    Although newly renovated or built clinics had more exam rooms and were significantly larger overall (11,900 square feet), individual exam rooms were actually slightly smaller (102 square feet) compared with facilities that were not newly built or renovated (110 square feet).

    This could be the result of providers' efforts to provide more comprehensive services that require additional clinic space (e.g., multidisciplinary clinics, genetic counseling, symptom management).

    Number of exam rooms and square footage

    Was the clinic renovated or built within the past three years? n Number of exam rooms (median) Square footage per exam room (median) Square footage of clinic (median)
    Yes 46 11 102 11,900
    No 48 9 110 5,000

    New clinics report slightly better patient access

    We also asked clinics to report their performance on patient throughput and access. Overall, patients scheduling their first appointment in newly renovated or constructed clinics had to wait one day less (5 days versus 6 days for older clinics). This suggests that upgraded facilities can help improve patient throughput and alleviate the pressures of growing volumes.


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