Three Trends Impacting US Healthcare–Can it adapt?
Walt Vernon, PE, LEED AP, EDAC, FASHE
Principal, Chief Executive Officer
Late last week, I attended an educational session and Board Meeting of the Health Care Institute (HCI). (HCI is part of the International Federation of Hospital Engineering – IFHE.) Its mission “is to holistically enhance the skills of facility management professionals within the health care industry and to further the profession overall.” I have just been appointed to the HCI Board, as one of two people representing the United States to the IFHE.
At the educational session, I participated in an interesting panel titled: Can US Healthcare Adapt?
With immense challenges facing the healthcare industry– How can we adapt? And what will it mean for facilities and facility managers? My answer spurred from my involvement with the Facility Guidelines Institute on the Future of Healthcare, as we are evolving the Guidelines to adapt to these changing circumstances. Because of the long cycle time for the Guidelines, in order to be successful, we need to skate to where the puck is going to be (in ten years). (Slight modification to Wayne Gretzky’s quote.)
My stance: Healthcare in general is experiencing three major trends, all of which need to be mirrored in the evolution of health facilities and health facility managers…
Radical transparency. The healthcare world is now a world of metrics– HCAPS scores, quality measures, outcomes. Yet, when I speak to audiences of facility managers about the ASHE Energy to Care Program, one of the first questions they always ask is, “Can I keep my data confidential?” The difference between transparent reporting of patient outcomes and the unwillingness to report energy consumption makes me chuckle. What about the design and construction industry? What about the energy consumption of the buildings we design? Design professionals need to move towards transparency as well. Mazzetti is.
Pay for results. The ACA is shifting to reimbursement for outcomes, rather than activities. This is a sea change–it’s changing the way everything is done in medicine. Some insurers are now talking about paying pharmaceutical companies not for drugs, but for outcomes from drugs. This is breathtaking. And, I think facility operators need to take this philosophy to heart and need to be showing their value. And, again, what about paying design professionals for results? Again, Mazzetti is trying to move in this direction.
Shift to paying for (Public) health, instead of fixing what’s broken. More and more, healthcare seeks to keep people out of the healthcare system by keeping them well. What if we could do that for health facilities? And, what if designers designed, not only buildings, but ways to keep buildings healthy. Mazzetti is also moving in this direction.
The healthcare industry is changing rapidly. Can it (WE) adapt? Organizations like HCI and IFHE, and many others, are highly effective in helping their members adapt to these changes. One thing their members need to do is seek partners who also see the changes needed and can help navigate.