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Hammes outlines five key planning strategies for ambulatory network of the future

June, 28, 2017- Five key planning strategies can help create an ambulatory network of the future where healthcare is delivered to achieve better outcomes while using resources more efficiently. 

As healthcare leaders plan for the future, they must create a flexible built environment that supports an effective and adaptable strategy rooted in five planning principles: thinking beyond the primary service area, adopting a design-neutral approach, making room for virtual care, using predictive analytics for site selection, and building for access and efficiency. In doing so, the ambulatory network of the future will address the emerging needs of both patients and providers. 

Hammes president and chief operating officer Chris Kay recently outlined the key planning principles in a white paper.

“The Hammes concept of a future ambulatory network encapsulates our understanding of how healthcare systems can thrive in the ever-evolving healthcare environment,” said Kay. “This ambulatory network of the future is a strategic planning model that accounts for the deep trends reshaping the healthcare industry, and the true center of healthcare delivery will soon be a coordinated network of ambulatory care points.”

Strategy 1: Think Beyond the Primary Service Area

The ambulatory network of the future is the hub of a care delivery system, and healthcare leaders must broaden their geographic focus and think beyond their existing primary service areas as a result. By thinking in terms of population health, healthcare systems can identify the total health and wellness needs of people in a region and the types of care delivery solutions the network should include. Strategic partnerships and affiliations are key to assembling an effective ambulatory network that has immediate access to expertise and market penetration. While assembling the ambulatory network, integration becomes key in coordinating services through a shared electronic medical records system.  

Strategy 2: Adopt a Design-Neutral Approach

Meeting today’s needs while also aligning with the ambulatory network of the future requires an adaptable design. This design-neutral approach ties to a flexible and operationally neutral template that adapts to new technologies, scientific advances and novel delivery processes as they evolve. The most efficient facilities also must be able to transition seamlessly to accommodate geographic changes associated with an aging patient population that will require geriatric and chronic care services.

Strategy 3: Make Room for Virtual Care

Virtual care, still in its early stage, requires a complex balance of traditional site-based care and virtual care requirements. Virtual care will reduce or change the need for many clinical spaces, including exam rooms, as the concept gains acceptance and increases in popularity, An increase in the use of virtual care also will lessen the demand for facilities for specialty care, with dermatology and psychiatry at the forefront.

What will not decrease is the need for specialized spaces to support IT systems, telehealth equipment, and support staff. Supply chain needs from different clinical workflows, 3D printing applications, and remote monitoring systems to support home health all will require workspace for specialized caregivers. Virtual care technology also likely will drive the development of lean diagnostic facilities staffed primarily by technicians and specialists that provide remote care and consultations.

Strategy 4: Use Predictive Analytics for Site Selection

Predictive analytics use rich data sets to model complex consumer demand and individual behavior. These tools help leaders understand regional patient populations and plan access points within an optimal ambulatory network. Healthcare providers can construct market scenario models to differentiate market opportunity by patient demand, as well as market opportunity by competitive landscape. Algorithms also can help forecast the impact of new technology.

Strategy 5: Build for Access and Efficiency

Patient-centric healthcare requires access and efficiency at all touchpoints throughout the care continuum. Design and process must work in tandem to ensure easy access, short wait times, and quick throughput, potentially in a hybrid medical office or clinical research building that allows physicians to add their greatest value to the ambulatory network. These facilities also must consider technology’s impact on patient interaction, electronic check-in and registration, reduced space requirements, evolving telehealth capabilities, and the resulting new staff and physician workflows.

A New Strategic Planning and Development Model

Healthcare organizations are recognizing powerful trends and realizing they must pivot dramatically to prepare for the future of healthcare.

“Healthcare’s center of gravity is shifting away from hospitals and toward ambulatory care, which disrupts traditional planning methods,” adds Kay. “Healthcare leaders must adopt a new model for strategic planning and development as the ambulatory network of the future emerges.”

Access the full press release here