3 things to think about before building a hospital

January 29, 2019
Brendan Howard, Business Channel Director

Brendan Howard oversees veterinary business, practice management and life-balance content for dvm360.com, dvm360 magazine, Firstline and Vetted, and plans the Practice Management track at all three Fetch dvm360 conferences.Brendan has proudly served under the Veterinary Economics and dvm360 banners for more than 10 years. Before that, he worked as a journalist, writer and editor at Entrepreneur magazine and a top filmed entertainment magazine in Southern California. Brendan received a Masters in English Literature from University of California, Riverside, in 1999.

Veterinary architects and experienced practice owners make up the dvm360 Hospital Design Competition panel of judges every year. This time, we decided to share three future-facing and sound insights that judges shared with us while they explored this years entries.

How many fingers am I holding up? Oh yeah, smart guy? Fine. If you're so smart, where's my head? (fusssergei/stock.adobe.com)Every year, for decades, some of the smartest minds in veterinary hospital design show up to judge the Hospital Design Competition and pick Hospitals of the Year and Merit Award winners. This year, we wanted to share three building trends and insights that came up during the judging.

Who did the judges pick?

You'll find out which hospitals earned Hospital of the Year and Merit Award accolades in the 2019 dvm360 Hospital Design Competition March 1 right here on dvm360.com and in the March issues of dvm360 magazine and Vetted.

1. ‘Transparency is the future'

You know the look: client-friendly views from reception or hallways outside exam rooms right into treatment or other medical areas. Which means “The Back,” the place veterinarians and veterinary team members used to whisk every single patient to. Well, if you can't show the value of your veterinary care in the exam room, why not give a glimpse into the magic with windows?

“Transparency is the future,” said one judge. “It helps to get people to agree to that first $800 on an emergency.” The judge said it doesn't end with windows, but can infuse and rejuvenate any hospital with an attention to the question of client perception.

“We need to step outside what we see and ask, ‘What does our client see?'” Whether that's front-to-back windows in a brand-new hospital or just better attention to cleanliness and organization in a practice that's been around for a while, some time spent thinking about what you've become blind to could improve client compliance and overall satisfaction.

Building a practice of your own?

Don't miss the 2019 HospitalDesign360 conference in Kansas City, Missouri, Aug. 21-23.

You'll gather ideas, learn from the profession's most noted veterinary design experts, and compare your options for design, construction, equipment, financing and more with our exclusive hospital design exhibit hall. Visit fetchdvm360.com/hd for more information.

Bonus! Practice owners from both of this year's Hospitals of the Year will be on hand to share their secrets.

2. Don't underbuild

If a successful veterinary hospital owner looking forward to growth is building a new facility, but is no more than 10 to 15 years from retirement, that can be a problem, said one judge: “They think, ‘I built it bigger than my last place, so I should be fine.'”

The problem with that thinking is twofold:

Growth. Hopefully, when you build a new, beautiful practice, you'll start growing-maybe faster than you thought. People who've drifted off may make a point to see your new hospital. You'll catch the eye of those who missed your facility before. You'll be able to take more appointments each day. Build too small, and you may find yourself full a year or three after you build.

Sale. You'll be selling a prosperous, growing practice to the next doctor, who likely won't be able to start practice ownership by expanding or building new. Make sure your facility is built to the stand the test of time-and then some.

3. Stop and think of everybody

You can't be all things to all people, but don't forget any of those people either. At least one judge was disappointed in a number of hospitals' inattention to sound control and flooring comfort, especially in treatment. That's where the clinical team, especially veterinary technicians, will spend long days on their feet.

“I'm disappointed in the hard surfaces,” said the judge, looking at guaranteed-to-echo wall and ceiling choices and hard flooring. “It shows a lack of concern for comfort, especially staff.”

So, before you decide to take the gorgeous flooring that's perfect for clients from your “front of house” all the way through the back, ask yourself: Who's in these spaces, and are they spending their time sitting or standing? Choose accordingly.

None of these are hard-and-fast rules of hospital design (your results may vary), but they're things you should think about before pulling the trigger on your next project.