The seasoned veterans of the healthcare planning and design industry have a very good feeling about the challenges we face in our industry. Of course, there are a myriad of challenges in areas that design professionals cannot control—reimbursement and healthcare reform to name a few. 

However, these should not be seen as difficult years, but rather years of opportunity as we make the necessary adjustments and changes to the healthcare system so it becomes sustainable for many years.

It may seem conflicting that professionals in healthcare design have this positive outlook about the future when other leaders in the industry are predicting the demise of the healthcare system as we currently know it.

To understand this viewpoint, you need to understand the factors involved in the planning and design of hospital environments and facilities. Included below is a list that discusses these factors with examples of the opportunities available for healthcare design professionals.

Given the current state of many healthcare organizations' financial position, master planning is of the utmost importance and value. With limited capital, it's vital to spend it in areas that respond to the mission, vision, and goals of the hospital.

Lean design
The concept and implementation of lean design continues to be important to all healthcare organizations. This is no longer a movement or a trend, but rather a basic component of all aspects of healthcare from operations to facility design. To respond to this, planning and design professionals are becoming trained to lead and participate in this process.

Over the last decade, there's been substantial progress made within healthcare organizations to improve the efficiency of operations, caregivers, and support team members. The current state of the healthcare industry requires this commitment, and continued improvement is vital to the future success of hospitals.

Evidence-based design
This important element of healthcare planning and design has matured and is now part of many projects. Although there are variances in this process, this approach utilizes research and evidence to influence and direct design decisions. As part of this movement, there has been a significant increase in credible facility-related research available to design professionals.

We will continue this discussion in future blogs to share the good news for professionals who specialize in healthcare design. The future is exciting for 2013 and beyond.

Gary Vance is the Director of National Healthcare for BSA LifeStructures. He is a recognized thought leader in healthcare planning and design, providing hospitals with creative solutions to their facility problems. He also collaborates with various healthcare constituent groups to develop innovative solutions to operational, facility and organizational problems. He can be reached at For more information, please visit