In this series, Healthcare Design asks leading healthcare design professionals, firms, and owners to tell us what’s got their attention and share some ideas on the subject.

Andrew Quirk is the senior vice president and national director of Skanska’s Healthcare Center of Excellence, a division of Skanska USA (New York).  Here, he shares his thoughts on the need for innovation and leadership, and what the hospital of the future might look like.

1. Innovation rules the day

Now more than ever, the healthcare industry is seeking new ways of thinking and doing. Healthcare providers that embrace innovation and demand it from their construction and design partners will be the ones to flourish in the new world of healthcare. The AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) industry needs to pursue design solutions driven by operational efficiency models and incorporate more efficient means and methods for constructing facilities, like advanced prefabrication techniques and 3-D printing. In turn, healthcare providers need to embrace and accept these cutting-edge ideas and put them into practice. Everyone needs to push the limits of innovation to impart meaningful change in the industry.

2.There has to be a better way

Our industry is in need of leaders—thought leaders, leaders of change, and those who are brave, willing, and able to take risks to positively affect growth. We’re potentially at the greatest intersection in recent history in the healthcare industry and have a significant opportunity to drive change in the market. To do this, we need to think differently and, most importantly, act differently.  As healthcare consumers increase, delivery of care evolves, and technological advances are implemented faster, the facilities we design, build, and operate must change as well. It’s implausible to think that the facilities from previous generations are well suited for today’s market as well as what’s to come in the next 10 years. Today’s built environment must be more operationally and socially conscious, generate ROI, be flexible, and integrated with technology. It would be a shame to waste a perfectly good opportunity.

3. Look beyond the immediate to whole-life cost

As the healthcare paradigm shifts, we need to look at our clinical care buildings in an entirely new way. Go beyond lifecycle cost analysis, where you look only at the physical asset, and instead evolve into whole-life cost analysis. With this approach, not only do you measure the physical asset, but also the cost of human capital—your employees, patients, etc.—to get a better understanding of the total cost of operation. This will help to prioritize decision making and focus on what’s at stake long term during the programming cycle and tie it directly to ROI.

4. Flexibility for operations sake

Costs are rising, competition is fierce, and margins are tightening. Then throw in a new healthcare structure provided by the ACA for good measure and change is afoot. The facilities we’re planning, designing, and building must be flexible enough to adapt quickly to changes we don’t see yet. This means re-examining things like adjacencies that protect against costly renovations in the future and designing and building spaces that are generic enough to adapt with future technologies and deliveries of care.

5. The new consumer

The new consumer is not just the previously uninsured. It’s also the less (recently) talked about retiring baby boomers, women, children, and all other users of the healthcare industry. But what do they want?  My bet is on convenient, efficient, and higher quality delivery of care that’s technologically based.  Where this new model is delivered and received is changing and how the market is captured is the real game that needs to be figured out. In simplistic terms, the hospital of the future will not be obsolete, but will be viewed as a specialty center for the delivery of care of complicated and serious cases. Education, preventative care, and disease management will first happen in multi-specialty clinics, minute clinics, retail settings like Wal-Mart and Target, and eventually in your home.

Andrew Quirk

Want to share your Top Five? Contact senior editor Anne DiNardo at for submission instructions.