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'Hospital of the Future's' Top 20 Features

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 23, 2012

CEO Michael Covert speaks so rapidly and excitedly about the marvels of his $1 billion Palomar Medical Center north of San Diego, which accepted its first patients on Sunday, he just might forget to breathe.

For quality design, the glass and steel structure "will be the most advanced—based on the size of the project and what's happening in the rest of the country—for at least the next several years," he boasts.  With 288 single-bed rooms, Palomar embodies the healthcare conceptualist's apocryphal "Fable Hospital," he says, and is the quintessence of "the Hospital of the Future."

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"The things we're doing with technology will remain unique compared to what others are doing. And though they may have newer or bigger facilities with more money, a lot of the features we're talking about they're not going to have because they aren't designed with that in mind," Covert says.

Blair Sadler, who authored several papers documenting the business case for quality improvement through architecture and who oversaw two drastic design changes during his 26 years as a large children's hospital CEO, thinks Covert got a lot of it right. That's unlike other CEOs who postpone such changes or are making the wrong ones, Sadler says.

"My experience is still that the majority of CEOS don't get the powerful connection between the physical space of a hospital and its quality," says Sadler, now a senior fellow with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

Though extremely competent and dedicated, they tend to delegate the remodeling process to their facilities people, who respond to what doctors, nurses and board members want, not to what the latest evidence for improving quality of care suggests or what the patients need, he says.

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5 comments on "'Hospital of the Future's' Top 20 Features"


John Rinset (9/10/2012 at 2:25 PM)
Several comments. I think the list of 20 is great. However, I do think that creating the common areas so staff and physicians can mingle needs to be supplemented for a space for physicians and staff to hang out alone. There are conversations they need to have with each other staff to staff and physician to physician that may be compromised by the common area. The meeting space could move to the physician parking lot, but not ideal. Also, no mention about cafeteria space, bereavement space or the onboarding space(registration), and finally the ER. All key places for a better patient experience. Are there kiosk in the lobby for patient/visitor access to information? Just some thoughts. Is the facility prepared to meet the future? Hard to know in this technology driven world. But this is a great start. Thanks for sharing.

Kelly Kline Burnett (9/6/2012 at 11:26 PM)
A beautiful atrium, fantastic technology, a sterile elevator but where is the ultimate in health - fitness. Why isn't this facility extolling the virtues of exercise with encouraging the use of the stairway. We must change our paradigm. We must start mandating movement. Prescriptive medicines MUST combine with cardio routines. Movement is a good thing, movement is the greatest luxury. Afterall, if you have your health, you have everything.

Julie D. Taylor (8/27/2012 at 4:32 PM)
Great acknowledgement of a truly groundbreaking hospital. With all the emphasis on the design, it would be good to note that LA-based CO Architects worked with Palomar for years to create this facility.