By Steven Curtis, Operations Manager

“The following information and design information enclosed in this package is intended to establish a constant level of quality for the design, construction, and delivery of a Class-A Medical Office Building.”

As healthcare architects, designers, and engineers, we frequently receive a medical office building design outline narrative that begins with a statement like the one above. A Class-A Medical Office Building (MOB) design outline narrative goes on to define the healthcare development company’s or healthcare system’s desired structural system, roofing system, exterior enclosure, interior construction, equipment, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems for the facility.

Simply put, the design outline narrative tells the healthcare design team the “what” and “how” of the proposed medical office building, but not the “why” or “who.” The “what” and “how” are important factors to consider for designing and constructing a MOB. But a better approach when engaging a healthcare design team for your future (MOB) is to define “why” you intend to construct the proposed facility and “who” the proposed facility will serve.

When planning your next MOB or better still, community wellness center (CWC), consider the following concepts.

“Why?”

Hospital systems increasingly are moving more services from inpatient to outpatient due to technological advancements that allow traditionally inpatient procedures to be performed more cost-effectively in community wellness centers (CWC). Because of this, you should consider constructing CWCs near dense population areas that include residential, commercial, and retail development. Locating CWCs in these areas allows the offered healthcare services to be accessible to a broader spectrum of patients.

Within the accessibly located CWC, offer a variety of healthcare services, including primary care providers and specialty care providers, plus services for lab, diagnostic imaging, surgical, and rehabilitation for convenient access to healthcare services.

Design and construct the CWC with dedicated space for the healthcare providers and professionals to collaborate and discuss a patient’s treatment and wellness needs. Thoughtfully providing collaboration space will promote a culture of collaboration among the healthcare providers and professionals and produce a comprehensive approach to serving the patient.

Also, design and construct the CWC with dedicated space for providing patient education. This space can be used to educate patients on treatment and homecare as well as long-term wellness.

“Why design and construct a community wellness center?” For patients to have convenient access to a variety of health services provided by collaborative and educationally minded healthcare providers and professionals.

“Who?”

While a CWC located in a densely populated area will serve numerous patients, the demographics of those patients will vary. Understanding patient demographics served by the CWC will influence the healthcare services provided plus inform how the healthcare providers and professionals interact with those patients.

Consider patient age. An elderly patient may require access to numerous healthcare services, while a younger patient may require access to fewer services. Also, an elderly patient may require treatment and education delivered in person, while a younger patient may prefer treatment and education delivered through internet-based methods.

Consider the patient’s family status. An expectant mother with children may require family-focused healthcare services, while childless or empty-nester patients would not require these services.

Consider the patient’s occupation. A retired patient with limited income or an employed, low-income patient may require access to social services along with healthcare services. However, a professional high-income patient may prefer access to elective or cosmetic healthcare services.

“Who will the community wellness center serve?” A CWC will serve patients with various demographics. When planning design and construction, at minimum consider the patients it will serve by age, family status, and occupation.