'Hospital of the Future's' Top 20 Features

Cheryl Clark, 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."


"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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