In 2009, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare recognized that healthcare reform was coming down the pike and with it the need for providers that are both efficient and effective in offering patient-centered care.

“We need to understand what that means,” said Jim Mladucky, AIA, ACHA, director facility planning and construction, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, who was joined by his colleague Sara Hayes, project manager, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, in the session “Integrated Outpatient Operations—Planning the Seamless Patient Experience” on Nov. 6 at the HEALTHCARE DESIGN Conference in Phoenix.

Despite the turnout of the 2012 presidential election and the subsequent course healthcare reform may take, Mladucky says a few things can be anticipated:

  • Care will need to be efficient and effective
  • Accountable care organizations will be a part of the picture
  • Alignment across stakeholders will be required

In response to these expectations, Northwestern Memorial is in the process of planning construction of its new Outpatient Care Pavilion, a 973,000-square-foot, 25-story facility to be built on one acre of land in downtown Chicago, connecting to the Feinberg School of Medicine.

“We need to bring this together, and to have a seamless patient experience, we need to have alignment,” Mladucky says. In fact, he says Northwestern Memorial looks at the pavilion as a change agent for the system because the delivery system created for the project is going to be used across all Northwestern Memorial HealthCare’s locations.

Plans for the pavilion were created in context of long-range financial and capital planning, Northwestern Memorial’s own strategic plan, current conditions and what’s anticipated for the future, and operations and functionality, among other conditions.

The planning process itself used four steps: project vision, care delivery, workflow analysis, and space requirements. With a vision in place, care delivery models were tested to make sure they were aligned and, in fact, met the vision.

To further test the vision, and the seamless patient experience intended, the planning team created a fictitious patient—“Tom.” “It really talked about the different ways someone would enter the system,” Mladucky says.

To that end, Hayes says the project is focused on the brand promise of “patient first”—so in this case, the new model will take Tom through a streamlined patient experience that includes one point of scheduling, a single billing system, an online patient information portal, and so on, to test the success of the vision.  

The plan will be executed by integrating a planning and readiness model used on all new facilities at Northwestern Memorial, including operations readiness in terms of carrying out multidisciplinary goals and facility readiness in terms of creating a site to support that new platform.