By Mark Sweeney, Director – Project Management

As a healthcare design firm, we are often asked in Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and project interviews whether our internal architectural team or consulting engineering partners have previously worked together. We find this question interesting because, as a design team working with health-centric professionals, we never think twice about our or their ability to work with others whose focus is healthcare. Within our own office, many project team members may not have had the opportunity to work with each other due to schedules or expertise. For us, this is not uncommon because different teams are put together for various reasons and can work in unison because of their common language of healthcare project design.

Communication Breakdown

When we engage with consultants, such as mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineers, in other cities we are asked to explain how we can work with a group of people we have never worked with before. How healthcare MEP engineers interface with the architectural team is important because their work engages the essential infrastructure of current and future operations. However, not having worked together in the past does not strike us as an issue because our common language is healthcare design. Although each consultant has their own unique characteristics, there is generally immediate alignment with the people and the project expectations.

Which brings me to an analogy along these lines that occurred to me the other day.

That’s the Way

A medical team, who may not have worked together before but who have the same focus and commitment to providing exceptional healthcare, come together to provide care to a patient and without hesitation work as a unit. Likewise, a physician who has never treated a particular patient does not hesitate. Although no two people are exactly alike, the general similarities of our species allow a clinician to evaluate and determine a patient’s issues.

Much like a clinician’s experiences, healthcare-focused design and construction professionals make their living working with like-minded people. Although every healthcare facility is different, they have more in common than one may think. As physicians vow to “do no harm,” our professional responsibilities are to protect “health, safety, and welfare.” In addition to new construction work, this includes ensuring existing operations are not adversely affected during a project, which is not to be confused with inconveniences or temporary operational changes that are part of renovation work. Whenever we are opening up an existing hospital system, care must be taken to ensure our clients’ good work continues during the duration of the project engagement.

As with any endeavor, support, clarity, and experience from all parties involved bring a higher likelihood of a smooth process and a successful engagement.