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Sara Marberry: What’s Ahead? More of the same

Sara Marberry

Sara Marberry

Have you read the American Hospital Association’s 2019 Environmental Scan yet?

This is AHA’s annual report that provides a “national high-level perspective on the healthcare landscape and market forces that have a high probability of affecting hospitals and health systems.” It really is an excellent summary.

And while not much has changed from the 2018 Environmental Scan (or from the 2017 Environmental Scan either), there are several important changes happening that continue to impact how and where healthcare consumers get their care.

Which also impacts healthcare facility design and construction. Here are the top trends in the report that are changing how and where healthcare consumers get their care.

1. Consumerism

Consumer expectations are driving many facets of healthcare right now.

Individuals want affordable, convenient, personalized, high-quality care that provides more value. They want to engage in ways that make sense in today’s digital world.

2. Technology

Not only does this include the digital technologies that consumers can engage in (like wearables, mobile health, telehealth, etc.), but also things like genome editing, artificial intelligence, and brain/augmented reality that have the potential to transform our society.

Innovations such as technological advancements and data analytics have the opportunity to reduce costs, improve care, and reduce friction for the consumer.

3. Well-Being

Getting consumers to focus on their well-being was a major initiative of the Affordable Care Act.

The healthcare system is evolving outside the walls of the hospital and into the community in an effort to manage and prevent chronic disease and improve the well-being of patients and the community.

4. New Entrants to the Industry

Companies like Amazon and Google are all over healthcare, and retail giants like Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens have been in the space for several years now.

New entrants to the field and unique partnerships have disrupted the status quo. 

Other Relevant Things

The scan also mentions ASHE’s Energy to Care benchmarking program that helps hospitals reduce energy use and lower operational costs. I don’t know much about this program, but more than 3,400 facilities are participating in it, with a reported cost savings of $395 million from 2010-2018.

Clinician burnout and shortages are also highlighted in the report.

The projected total shortfall of physicians by 2030 is between 42,600 and 121,300. What’s more, 42 percent of physicians report burnout and 14 percent report both burnout and depression.

Changes in physician retirement decisions could have the greatest impact on supply; more than one-third of all currently active physicians will be 65 or older within the next decade.

And right now there are three million nurses in the U.S.  We’ll need to produce more than one million new registered nurses by 2022 to meet our healthcare needs.

Those are sobering statistics.

Which makes it more important than ever to think about how the design of the physical environment of healthcare can support the health and happiness of the people that work in them. For some ideas on this, check out Sheila Cahnman’s recent post on the Healthcare Design magazine website.

What Do You Think?

Which one of these resonates the most with you about healthcare facility design and construction? Or are there others in the report/not in the report that you feel are important?

For example, no mention of improving the patient experience. Granted, some of that is being driven by government reimbursement policies, but it’s also about improving the quality of care.

This column originally ran on Sara Marberry’s blog on Jan. 11, 2019. Marberry is a healthcare design expert who has written/edited five books and is a regular contributor to Healthcare Design magazine. Marberry also is a former Executive Vice President of the nonprofit Center for Health Design.