Changes in the ways people seek medical care, change the way healthcare developers operate. According to Jim Peters, vice president, suburban team lead at Rightsize Facility Performance, developers focusing on meeting the changing needs and demands of hospitals, individual clients and medical providers, is very indicative of the healthcare industry as a whole right now.
“I’ve been providing furnishings to the healthcare industry for about 20 years”, Peters said. “It’s amazing to me of the shift in the patient experience, and how much it is playing into how they’re re-doing their furnishings, competing for actual clients.”
That trickles down to the affiliates, according to Peters, and creates an atmosphere to where ergonomics plays a huge issue, as well as aesthetics.
“Nobody wants to go in to the old 1970’s styled doctor’s office, where it’s a tile floor, and very uncomfortable guest seating. Even the affiliate locations are stepping up their game as far as overall design, and feel and flow of the office.” “The shift is crazy,” he said. “I’m 47 years old, so back in the day you went to your doctor—he might have been affiliated with a major hospital—and you stuck with him your whole life.”
He noted that is no longer the case, as there are plenty of options available today. “It could be because of the person’s medical provider stipulating where they can go. It could be the insurance company saying they can’t see the family doctor they’ve been seeing since they were young, because they’re not in their network.”
Peters said that private practitioners are very aware that they are literally competing—just like any other industry— for dollars.
“It’s sad but it’s the truth,” he noted. “I was hospitalized unfortunately for three days, and I literally felt like I was sitting in a hotel room. It wasn’t your standard bed and nightstand table. Now you have beautiful dressers, the amenities of television, and room service.”
The patient experience has become one of the key indicators healthcare facilities are looking at because, according to Peters, it’ll boost their ratings.
“It may give them likes on Facebook,” he said. “That is one of the key indicators of the patient experience, and that’s what healthcare providers kind of circle their marketing program around—the overall patient experience. A great example is Edward Hospital in the west and southwestern suburbs.”
“It’s one of the largest healthcare providers right now,” Peters continued. “They literally have billboards on route 59 announcing current ER times in real time. They’re really marketing to clients now. Even though we’re patients, you’re still kind of a client. So it’s almost more of a sales pitch, than it is an overall healthcare doctor/patient relationship.”
Peters did note that he believes the healthcare industry itself is still the largest and fastest growing industry in the United States of America—and it’s only going to get bigger.
“I don’t know the statistics, but I believe they’re in the proximity of 18 million jobs per year. So it’s an extremely large market that is growing by leaps and bounds. But with that, we’re also seeing a lot of the larger healthcare providers gobbling each other up.”
These larger healthcare providers are “gobbling up” medical groups that may be doing well in a certain marketplace, Peters said. “Those medical groups are now being targeted by the larger providers and being absorbed, merged, or completely knocked out. It’s an incredibly competitive industry.”
With that competitiveness, Peters added, comes their biggest challenge—staffing and hiring.
“It’s like any other industry, if you are looking to recruit and retain people; you want them to have a positive work environment, and we’ve seen a major shift. You would think the healthcare people would have been the Vanguard of this, but they weren’t in ergonomic seating, or ergonomic work stations.”
“The biggest mistake that almost all companies do with their seating, is have a one size fits all approach,” he continued. “They realize the fact they are getting their healthcare claims from their own employees—they’re having shoulder and knee pains, amongst other things. So they’re attributing that to what employees are sitting in nine to ten hours a day.”
Those are two of the biggest shifts Peters said he has seen, with how the actual healthcare facilities are treating their own employees, as well as how they are providing the patient experience.
“It’s really great to see because they have noted that their healthcare related issues have gone down with their own employees. Then, by raising the patient experience, they are actually out attracting and recruiting patients. It’s a crude way to say it, but at the bottom line, that is exactly what’s being done on a daily basis.”