What if architects thought differently about how they design and build structures used for outpatient services? If the health care field has learned anything from the past two years, it is that immediate change will happen whether the field is ready for it or not. Often when change happens, there is a reaction or overreaction that promulgates a solution that may not be necessary.

Change will continue to occur and can be driven by a series of factors, not necessarily one cataclysmic event. Thus, architects must design for the unexpected, allowing for adaptability when the inevitable happens. These goals of resiliency and flexibility must address both the ability to maintain operations and limit downtime amid a change event, providing a reasonable value proposition to health care organizations.

Change agents and trends

Change agents that originate from within the field and from uncontrollable external forces have resulted in operational impacts affecting health care. Health care changes over the past 25 years include expansion of decentralized outpatient services away from acute care campuses. This change is driven by consumer expectations, consolidation of health care providers into systems and the competition for market share in growing population centers.

The landscape is seeing new facilities, ranging from outpatient clinics and ambulatory surgery centers to health care in retail outlets such as Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Costco. The advent of the iPhone era that began 15 years ago and the explosion of technology have impacted every aspect of both home and business life. The impact to the health care field has led to minimizing or eliminating paper records, improved and created new diagnostic tools, bolstered the connectivity that has supported more complicated and emergent treatments in the outpatient venue, and brought virtual care directly into the homes of patients.

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