Capital Improvement Project Spotlight on Emory University Hospital's latest outpatient tower expansion.
The original vision for Emory University Hospital’s expansion was to meet patient demand and increase overall revenue by adding an outpatient tower; however, unforeseen circumstances changed the nature of the building from inception to completion. During this ten-year timeframe, the team encountered several challenges: The Great Recession, the Ebola crisis, executive turnover, and the ramifications of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Together, these changes had a profound impact on the hospital’s expansion. Despite the changes and challenges, the BDR team was able to deliver the project under budget while creating a completely unique hybrid facility for Emory University Hospital that serves as both an inpatient care clinic and an outpatient facility.
Overcoming each challenge required creative and flexible solutions that emphasized communication and a forward-thinking attitude. With each new hospital executive came a new vision, opinion, and relationship. The Ebola crisis put Emory in the news as the first US hospital to treat a victim, thereby forcing decision-makers to focus on media communications instead of the project’s progress. Meanwhile, the Great Recession tightened budgets and restricted movement in numerous ways, making it clear that the space needed to be reimagined. Finally, the Affordable Healthcare Act affected all national healthcare systems. It became more crucial than ever to deliver capital projects on time and within budget. The changing legislation also affected the revenue streams associated with insurance payers, which demanded that the building program effectively adapt and respond.
Emory’s landlocked, urban site, located in the middle of an already crowded Atlanta neighborhood, was also challenging. In addition, the hospital continued to see patients every day, which required continuity of services with no interruption of care. All the while, the Program Manager, BDR, was faced with a question: how do we connect the new building to the old buildings in a way that allows movement and avoids confusion?
To provide the highest ROI for this project, BDR encouraged Emory to focus on radiology which enabled the hospital to create expansion opportunities by growing these existing services that tie to patient experience. The expansion’s quality also shows an exponential leap concerning care and equipment. Emory was able to raise their level of clinical practice, no longer constrained by the physical restrictions of the facility.
Collaboration was this project’s hallmark as the team seamlessly aligned varying viewpoints. As a teaching hospital, there were several departments and personnel involved with this expansion. From instructors to nurses to janitors, everyone had a voice to contribute, and the BDR team was careful to listen. To accommodate the different opinions, BDR held large meetings with a goal of driving consensus. The strategy was to combine thoughts and views in a way that gave the project a holistic view. The entire team worked hard to understand how the different operational groups were organized, to identify the major players, and to validate opinions while driving toward consensus. These collaborative meetings further helped to manage the budget and ensure ROI.
In many ways, this project successfully brought together disparate elements into one coherent voice. What was once a fragmented campus is now tied together, both literally and metaphorically. Indeed, this hospital represents a shifting mindset and a new future for the hospital model: the bringing together of patients and care providers.
In the ten-year span of this project, the BDR team continually exceeded the call of duty. They assisted Emory in identifying what they needed to make a successful project and helped them understand their budget, identify their unique culture, and bring together opinions. BDR confronted local, national, and international challenges and adapted accordingly. In every way possible, this Emory University Hospital expansion demonstrates that BDR is more than your typical project manager, but rather a partner that understands a hospital’s business goals and delivers facilities that improve their position. In this case, delivering an expansion project $15 million under budget.