Dawne David-Pierre is director of operations for Perkins&Will (New York and Philadelphia) and share the top five trends and issues getting her attention right now, including the role of telehealth in broadening care access, using adaptive reuse to address health disparities, and mentoring the next generation of healthcare designers.

Dawne David-Pierre (Headshot credit: Perkins&Will)

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

Dawne David-Pierre is director of operations for Perkins&Will (New York and Philadelphia), an interdisciplinary, research-based architecture and design firm.

Here, she shares the top five trends and issues getting her attention right now, including the role of telehealth in broadening care access, using adaptive reuse to address health disparities, and mentoring the next generation of healthcare designers.

  1. Master planning for systemwide improvements

The design of healthcare spaces has the power to impact patient and family experiences in profound ways at times when they are at their most vulnerable. Populations that are most at-risk for health disparities—racial and ethnic minority groups, socioeconomically burdened communities, and the elderly—are also often served by under-resourced health systems with overburdened infrastructure that requires upgrades to meet current and emerging standards.

Healthcare designers can work with healthcare systems to identify strategic goals for holistic master planning that respects patient populations, service lines, provider support, and facility maintenance. By prioritizing and sequencing improvements to aging facilities, project teams can maximize impact, while mitigating disruption to capacity and minimizing waste. Establishing a road map that considers this broader context helps architects to be better stewards of clients’ resources. This strategy applies whether planning large-scale, phased in-place renovations or delivering cohesive design 5,000 square feet at a time.

  1. Using design-build delivery methods on small-scale projects

At a time when the cost of financing and construction has continued to rise precipitously, many healthcare clients are turning to a design-build delivery method, which integrates construction partners into the design process from the start. While this method is sometimes associated with trade-offs regarding design quality or user-experience, it can expedite construction and reduce costs without compromise when done well.

Fostering a shared vision between owners, contractors, and designers is key. For multiple walk-in community health clinics for a client in New York, the project team worked collaboratively from the onset of the project with the owners and contractors on visioning and setting benchmarks for success. This step allowed the team members to effectively manage scope and cost, mitigate some of the complexities of mobilization and construction at multiple sites, and achieve a consistent design and user experience across locations.

  1. Does telehealth improve access or perpetuate disparities?

Wider adoption of telehealth services has increased flexibility and convenience for many, but it may not bridge the health-equity gap in all the ways it was expected. For telehealth to truly improve equitable access to healthcare, designers must not only think about design solutions as physical interventions. They must also consider the role they can play in planning and developing innovative strategies for outreach and education so that patients are empowered to get the most out of their telehealth experience. This includes improving access to devices and broadband, incorporating telehealth and digital technology education at community health events, and providing spaces that offer safety and privacy for patients to take digital appointments. Without improving access and education, we risk telehealth furthering disparities by leaving those most in need behind.

  1. Healthcare organizations as investors in housing and other community resources

The health equity gap in socially disadvantaged communities is well documented, with health outcomes heavily influenced by socioeconomic factors. Community building and economic stability are key factors in addressing health disparities.

It’s exciting to see hospitals and healthcare organizations partnering in unconventional ways to treat health as a matter of social justice. These investments include development of affordable permanent and/or transitional housing for vulnerable populations along with other holistic community resources such as gyms, clinics, daycare facilities, and grocery stores.

It can also mean devising new ways to remove barriers to access through adaptive reuse. For example, Marketplace Mall and The University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., partnered to reimagine a former Sears department store as a state-of-the-art care facility in a location that is accessible and conveniently located. Architects and designers are well positioned to bring multidisciplinary perspectives to creative community-based healthcare solutions.

  1. Mentoring the next generation of healthcare designers

Healthcare design is a dynamic field, with spaces influenced by hospitality, residential, and even mixed-use trends. This provides multidisciplinary teams and studios with the opportunity to innovate in their design solutions. It also sheds a creative light on entry points to this design sector.

Reflecting on my own journey, I was drawn to the industry as I realized the ways my role as a designer could drive community impact and positively affect patient care outcomes. Now, as a mentor, I’m interested in working with emerging designers to explore how their skills and interests can impact healthcare design, help identify their career goals, and expose them to all aspects of the project process, including client and end-user engagement. Healthcare design is a sector where community impact can be readily seen and felt, and it’s exciting to be able to shine a light on the field for emerging professionals.

Dawne David-Pierre is director of operations for Perkins&Will (New York and Philadelphia) and can be reached at dawne.david-pierre@perkinswill.com.

 

Want to share your Top 5? Contact Managing Editor Tracey Walker at tracey.walker@emeraldx.com for submission instructions.