UHealth – University of Miami Health System is constructing a 370,000-square-foot medical facility within a 184-acre mixed-use development in North Miami, Fla.

Set to be UHealth’s largest outpatient medical facility when it opens in summer 2025, UHealth SoLé Mia will bring world-class academic medicine specialties, including cancer care, cardiology, and neurology, to the North Miami and Aventura communities and surrounding areas.

Parry LaGro at Arcadis Inc. discusses bringing academic medical outpatient services into a community development in Miami

Parry LaGro (Image credit: Arcadis)

Connecting to the community, the site for the seven-story facility will include open green space with a reflection garden and views of the ocean and lagoons for those receiving extended services.

Here, Parry LaGro, principal and healthcare practice group manager, U.S. East, at Arcadis Inc. (Miami), the architect and interior designer on the project, talks about the demand for community-based outpatient care.

What drove UHealth to bring outpatient services to this mixed-use development?

UHealth’s aim is to grow its footprint and expand services where people live, work, and play. SoLé Mia’s mixed-use site has been revitalized in recent years and has enhanced the quality of life for residents. Embedding a state-of-the-art ambulatory medical facility into the community fits UHealth’s goal of bringing academic medicine closer to where people live.

How is the facility designed to support a multidisciplinary team approach?

UHealth SoLé Mia is an extension of the academic medicine delivered by UHealth and the Miller School of Medicine, providing patients with leading-edge research, the latest therapies, and access to clinical trials. The site will comprise 110 exam rooms, 10 operating rooms, 33 cancer treatment rooms, cutting-edge diagnostics, and a multitude of specialties, including the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Desai Sethi Urology Institute.

Physicians and support staff will maintain the same level of collaboration with fellow physicians and researchers. As healthcare becomes more minimally invasive, the facility will provide residents and fellows with new learning experiences in the outpatient care space.

How are patients’ needs for convenience and accessibility driving planning?

During the planning process for UHealth’s ambulatory medical centers, Arcadis and UHealth representatives participated in extensive patient and employee journey mapping to anticipate their unique needs, which were then incorporated into the design process.

The goal was to make the patient and caregiver experience more convenient, comfortable, and accessible. Accessibility is enhanced through wayfinding signs in the adjacent parking garage, helpful reminders to patients after a full day of doctor’s appointments. First-floor concierges provide further direction. Patients requested check-in counters at wheelchair-height. Floors made of slip-proof material reduce the risk of falls, and benches positioned throughout the facility give patients a place to catch their breath.

What role will technology have at the new outpatient facility?

UHealth SoLé Mia will be at the forefront of utilizing the latest advancements to ensure a seamless approach to healthcare delivery for our patients and visitors.

For example, geo-fenced self-arrival, self-check in kiosks with identity verification and parking counts software are just some of the technologies that will enhance the patient journey and improve operational efficiencies among staff and physicians.

The design process was also informed by patients through the health system’s Patient and Family Centered Care (PFCC) Program, which included current and former patients/visitors, who offered feedback on design elements such as wayfinding and signage, public space flow and access, exam room set up, and furniture/fixtures.

The team also has been mindful of the interior spaces to be welcoming, calming, and healing. The building was created with patients’ needs in mind.

Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the lobby with natural light, drawing attention to nature-inspired artwork. The soothing scent of aromatherapy and a gentle piano melody will fill the air.

Do you expect to see more demand for community-based outpatient care?

Yes. Many healthcare services continue to shift toward the outpatient setting because of groundbreaking clinical care that does not require a hospital stay.

As a result, we are seeing more organizations provide multidisciplinary outpatient medical care under one roof so patients can get the care they need and be home that same day.

How will this trend impact the healthcare design sector?

The growing presence of state-of-the art ambulatory medical centers in community settings will serve as a model for transforming healthcare design. The trend will continue to bring forth new ideas through the latest advancements in academic clinical care, research, and teaching to meet the evolving needs of patients, healthcare professionals, and communities at-large.

Tracey Walker is managing editor of Healthcare Design and can be reached at tracey.walker@emeraldx.com.