Many hospitals are taking a proactive stance to reduce their own internal expenses through deeper innovation and technology integration.

Becker’s Hospital Review cites 25 hospitals or health systems operating specific innovation centers, either as a dedicated department or as an organization with a separate governing board. Spanning the U.S. from east to west and north to south, these facilities are dedicated to incorporating new tools and technologies, as well as new ideas and workflows, into their daily operations. Not surprisingly, nearly a third of the hospitals highlighted have incorporated Aethon’s TUG into their innovative practices.

Innovation sounds expensive, and some wonder if cash-strapped hospitals can afford it. While innovation centers and technology purchases often require an initial investment, Atheon focuses on developing tools that pay for themselves by improving hospital efficiency, clinical staff effectiveness and patient satisfaction.

Forward-thinking is equally important in the construction of new facilities. Successful, cost-effective architectural design focuses on patient experience, workflow, sustainability and consolidation of services.

Andrew Quirk, of Skanska, one of the nation’s largest health care construction firms, and a partner in NXT Health’s Patient Room 2020 program, sees exciting opportunities ahead to build what he calls “future-enabled” hospitals offering greater energy-efficiency and improved flexibility. In an interview on “Building a Better Hospital,”  Quirk says, “The big thing that I see is that buildings need to do a better job of integrating technology into the physical environment. Buildings need to be adaptable and able to change.”

Opening just last year, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center at Mission Bay is an 878,000-square-foot building housing UCSF cancer, women’s and children’s hospitals. Design efficiency was a primary goal in its construction.   To maximize efficient service delivery, the hospital consolidates many of its functions, including back-of-house functions. These are shared for increased operational efficiency and effectiveness, explains Annie Coull, AIA, ACHA, EDAC, San Francisco-based health and wellness sector lead for the building’s design firm, Stantec. To reduce staff walking distances, a fleet of 27 TUG robots carries linens, food, specimens and medications throughout the building.

Unless they want to fall victim to rising costs, it’s clear that “business as usual” isn’t an option for the hospitals of tomorrow. Fostering a culture of innovation leads to actual innovation in the everyday provision of health care services.