Benchmarks exist in almost all industries. In healthcare, metrics that are commonly compared using benchmarks include average length of stay, door to doctor time, and OR percent utilization. When designing new healthcare facilities, architects are also required to follow specific benchmarks that make up the spatial guidelines for different functional areas. These can include ratios of operating rooms to prep and recovery rooms, minimum square footage and egress requirements.
Many of the benchmarks found in the guidelines for healthcare facility design are based on research and best practices, and architects must adhere to them, unless they can prove otherwise. In some situations, the guidelines are a conservative estimate of the amount of space necessary to support a typical process, which doesn’t account for improvements in operations. If an architect can demonstrate that their design supports the improved operations of a facility, they may build less than the guidelines require.
More hospitals are working hard to improve the way they deliver care. As we see advances in the care delivery model, we should expect the spaces that support these processes to become more efficient and effective as well. Array works with healthcare facilities to right-size their program so that it supports the operations and maximizes the return on their capital investment.
Simulation modeling can be used to justify space programs that do not explicitly follow the guidelines. In this case, the simulation is being applied at a tactical level to prove an assumption made by the architect designing the layout of the facility. Incorporating this tool into the planning phase of design allows for the boundaries traditionally set forth by the guidelines to be challenged.
A client was interested in expanding the reach of their outpatient surgery centers. These smaller, satellite facilities peppered throughout the United Sates allowed more people to access the specialized care offered by Laser Spine Institute (LSI). Because of their focus on Planetree, LSI spends a significant amount of time improving their operations and enhancing the patient experience. These improvements resulted in a process that utilizes expensive prep and recovery space more efficiently.
LSI was interested in providing excellent care in right-sized facilities. Array used a simulation model to prove their program included the right number of spaces to support the improved operating process at LSI. The current guidelines suggest that the ratio of prep rooms to ORs is 1:1 and that recovery rooms to ORs is 2.5:1. Following these benchmarks for a facility with three operating rooms would lead to a program with four prep rooms and eight recovery rooms (rooms are always rounded to the nearest multiple of two).
Patient throughput data was applied to a simulation model so that it could be used to accurately represent the operations at LSI and predict the optimal room need. The results of the model, proving that less space was needed than specified by the guidelines, were shared with the authorities having jurisdiction. Upon approval, Array and LSI were able to confidently proceed with the project, knowing that they would be maximizing the use of their capital and providing patient-focused care in efficient facilities.