Healthcare Facilities: Finding the Upside of the Downturn

Decision makers in healthcare companies are spending more time than usual crunching numbers and making projections … and some are shrugging their shoulders. Like every major U.S. industry, they are trying to figure out how to do business in this unpredictable economy.

Although healthcare is traditionally one of its strongest segments (the sick will always be with us), people’s needs, behavior patterns, and priorities have shifted in response to the downturn. And this is all giving rise to new trends. Among the trend watchers are SSOE’s healthcare experts. They are helping clients take advantage of the slowdown’s effect on facilities’ projects.

“Where is the silver lining?” you ask. Lower revenues, tight money, and risk aversion call for rethinking your strategies, but “there’s an upside,” suggests Matthew Kennedy an SSOE healthcare planning expert. “This is the perfect time to focus on your development strategy and careful project planning. Without the sense of urgency to break ground or start filling beds, you have the time to examine a broad range of options related to facilities projects.”

These planning initiatives are the key to higher value, reduced costs, or more efficient operations:

  • If you are contemplating building new facilities, look for and evaluate additional building sites that may offer bigger advantages.
  • Land purchase opportunities: Smaller sites near neighborhoods are selling significantly below normal market value, particularly in the areas worst hit by the recession. These might be ideal locations for new or expanded smaller clinics. Consider buying larger, discounted properties as well, if you can afford the outlay of cash. These can be a valuable investment over time.
  • Conduct space programming for upcoming projects to determine the solution that offers the most efficient use of space. If the project will have staffing implications, develop departmental plans that address the allocation of personnel. Both studies will affect your assessments of the cost of treatment.
  • Look into implementing more sustainable design solutions and calculate the energy savings in the long and short term. Factor this information into your decision-making process so you can compare true costs of developing one project versus another.
  • Use evidence-based design data to evaluate the ROI of projects under consideration. This will lend credibility to the value of a potential project and help reduce the perception that it is too costly.

If you take advantage of this time to plan, you’ll be ready to move forward when the economic climate improves. SSOE’s planning services include healthcare master planning, space and departmental planning, site evaluations and more. If you’d like the input of an experienced resource, contact David Verner (