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How do providers view fixed asset strategies?

    By Abby Burns 

    In December 2016, Facility Planning Forum members attended a panel discussion on hospital fixed asset strategy at the Health Care Advisory Board meeting in St. Louis. The discussion among our provider panelists was rich with important takeaways for facility planners. Here are the highlights:

    Health system infrastructure must change quickly

    Many traditional physical plants are unable to meet modern market needs. Today’s patients are physically larger and more demanding in terms of personal space, clinical complexity, and consumer voice. Provider organizations are taking notice, and acting accordingly:

    • Emerus is using micro-hospitals to meet the current and projected need for the next five to 10 years, acknowledging that as demographics and health care delivery change, so too will brick and mortar needs change over time.
    • CoxHealth is building a new inpatient tower to collocate service lines with overlapping patient populations and refurbishing an existing tower to convert all rooms from semi-private to private.
    • SSM Health has invested in two ambulatory centers to meet the particular needs of its local patient populations.

    Providers are stuck between a tower and a hard place

    • Aging physical plants are expensive to maintain and difficult to upgrade to meet clinical and consumer needs.
    • Patient access gaps are difficult to fill in a financially and clinically efficient manner.
    • Non-clinical spaces are often overlooked in the physical plant design and service allocation strategy, despite the important role they play in health system operations.

    The U.S. health care system doesn’t have a “capacity” problem – it has a “meaningful capacity” opportunity

    • The United States has plenty of beds, but they are neither the right type of bed nor are they appropriately located to meet market demand.
    • Many markets are “overbedded” and many systems struggle with duplicative services and assets. Now, these systems are charged with reallocating their capacity to best meet the demonstrated needs of their patient populations.They’re turning to architects, planners, and developers for creative solutions that acknowledge the systems’ tight capital constraints.

    Provider Panelists:

    Tracy Mitchell, System Administrative Director of Population Health, CoxHealth
    Mike Bowers, President, SSM Health St. Joseph’s Hospital – St. Charles
    Vic Schmerbeck, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, Emerus

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