Day One: Hospital Design Competition


More boarding, flat-screen monitors and Southwestern colors: Judges sized up the competition in the first day.

Those of you who follow my annual reports about the Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition know that the prestigious award is bestowed under humble circumstances-by some incredibly knowledgeable and talented people. Today we got started in Kansas City. (I have to mention that the high temperature today is a balmy 28 degrees. This is no Florida vacation for our dedicated group of judges.) The team: Dr. Ross Clark; Dr. Dennis Cloud; and Dan Chapel and Brad Rabinowitz of the American Institute of Architects.

Day One tends to be a long day of reading entries, yet the side conversations are interesting. In the morning we talked about prescription revenue. It turns out that Walmart is offering $4 prescriptions for generic drugs in 49 states, and they'll honor veterinary scripts, too. We also talked about the ongoing increase in specialty practices and how that trend affects the care that general practitioners provide.

Over lunch we talked about modular construction options. Later in the afternoon we went back to the hotel boardroom for more focused design review.

Trends that seem to be popping up today:

> We've seen some very luxurious boarding facilities in hospitals. That spurred discussion about whether it's a good thing. I think we settled on: Do it big and do it right-or if you hate ancillary services, leave it out. But our crew doesn't think boarding and grooming detract from clients' perceptions of the practice. "Is this argument about what the client wants or about what veterinarians think?" asks Dr. Clark.

> Flat screens are taking over, and the technology is regularly built into the integral plan for the practice. You see fewer walls of medical files behind the reception desk as practices incorporate electronic medical records. Every year we see more practices that moved their phones off the front desk. And digital radiography seems to be a more popular choice.

> We seem to be seeing more practices with Southwestern color palettes, and with a little stronger color choices overall. The risk, say the judges, is that these more trendy schemes may grow old fast.

> We've seen a couple of central pharmacies, connecting the dispensing function and the need to serve the hospital effectively. The judges say they think that while two instances don't make a trend, this would be a positive one for many practices. "I think this is a good way to control pharmacy and supply costs," Dr. Cloud says.

> Finally, the judges say they've never seen a batch of design entries that so consistently included a designated comfort or grieving room.

Stay tuned for more trends. And remember, the Hospital of the Year and the merit award winners will all be announced in the March issue of Veterinary Economics.

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