South Florida Hospital News
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December 2014 - Volume 11 - Issue 6

Saltz Michelson Building 'Hospital of Tomorrow'

Charles Michelson recently participated on a panel entitled, "Building the Hospital of Tomorrow." When asked what the Hospital of Tomorrow will look like, he replied, "That's why there was a panel, because there's no one answer to that question."
Michelson, of Saltz Michelson Architects, went on to explain, "We're dealing with an industry that's changing exponentially in terms of equipment that's being used, in terms of the laws that are in place from Obamacare and insurance criteria, and the technology that exists. So we're dealing with a very dynamic industry, yet it takes years to plan and design and build hospitals." He likened it to buying a computer or a television, knowing that as soon as you purchase it, it's already obsolete.
He continued by saying, "The important thing to remember is that the way buildings have been designed in the past is not the way they will be designed in the future. So anybody who thinks that what we've been doing in the past just needs to be put into a newer box, is completely missing the boat."
Michelson gave examples of the way some things are changing, saying, "The primary focus of medical care is now on the patient and the patient experience throughout the entire process – meaning that medical care is coming to the patient as to the patient having to go to different locations." He explained that in the past if you had a cardiac problem you went to a cardiologist, and then to the pulmonologist's office for follow-up, and then perhaps someplace else for another procedure or test. Now, patients may contact a clinic and see three different specialists who can take care of them at one location.
He also mentioned medical spaces possibly being used by more than one specialist, the idea being that the space is more generic and flexible, so that the activity that takes place is the result of the equipment and the physician, not the design of the room. The result may be that one or two more procedures can occur in that room each day. "That's an example of an operational efficiency," Michelson said. "And studying operational efficiencies in every area of the hospital can theoretically make the entire process more efficient and ultimately more profitable."
As an architect, Michelson believes part of his responsibility is to be up on current events in the industry, as well as on the rules and regulations and the product delivery. "As architects involved with medical design, we're constantly going to seminars and conferences, we're reading white papers, paying attention to where the industry is, so we're able to let our clients know. If we're working with the administrator of the hospital, the dialogue starts out, 'We're not just replicating what you've done in the past; how can we make it better?' So that's part of the obligation of the design professional, to stay current on the needs of the area he's designing."
Michelson has been an architect since 1983, starting by working on doctors' offices, and then clinics, small projects in hospitals, and then larger projects in hospitals. "I'm part of the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association and I participate on their facilities committee, but at the same time I listen to the concerns of the people who provide health care services to the public."
He added that it's continuous education, you never stop learning. "Every day there's a new rule, a new regulation, a new approach, a new philosophy, a new piece of equipment, a new technology, a better computer – and all of them have an impact. There's an incredible transformation of what medicine is today, and where it's going in the future compared with the past."
Michelson said today's technology is able to identify every person and every piece of equipment in the hospital, and monitor all of it to make sure that it's working at its best efficiency.
"The capabilities are incredible," Michelson concluded, adding that part of the process includes training on the part of staff to help people transition, and a change of thought process and experience on the part of patients. "So everybody is learning how to interact with each other under this new scenario of health care service, and my obligation is to try to figure that out so I can design the box for it to occur in."
Stay tuned to see what the box, uh hospital, of tomorrow looks like.
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