Best Practices for Healthcare Facility Planning and Design


Best Practices for Healthcare
Facility Planning and Design

As each technology has its pros and cons, it is critical to understand the preferred environment of each technology to maximize its advantages and minimize the risks related to signal interference. In healthcare facility planning and design, several considerations should be taken into account to maximize your RTLS system.

Throughout this best practice, you will find real-world examples from the team at Sanford Health in the design and construction of their new $500 million Fargo hospital.

1. Start with a Vision and Define Value

Whether it’s a small renovation project or a multi-million dollar new construction endeavor, you need to start with a clear vision for your project. Your organization’s leadership must clearly communicate why you’re embarking on this journey and what the guiding principles are for this initiative. Each project should be about adding value, so as you begin planning you also need to define the value you want to bring as an outcome of the project.

Sanford Health Medical Center
The vision for the new medical center was to create a patient-centered healing environment serving the needs of the growing Fargo-Moorhead community. The main guiding principles were to apply an evidence-based design, integrate family into the patient experience, and create a work environment that supported staff.

The team also had a solid understanding of the value the project needed to deliver:

  • Enable innovation to provide the best outcomes for patients
  • Promote healing by incorporating natural light, colors, and art
  • Drive efficiencies by applying smart design and simplifying work for staff
  • Ensure the safety of patients, staff, and all who enter the facility

2. Pick the Right Location

When selecting the location of a medical facility there are many factors that need to be considered, such as a cost of acquiring the land, ease of access, and expansion potential.

Sanford Health Medical Center 
Sanford Health leadership closely monitored the population trends of the community and bought a large parcel of land over 20 years ago, anticipating the growth of the community. The building’s lot is conveniently located near the intersection of two interstates and major city junctions.

3. Assemble the Right Team

The success of the project depends on assembling the right team. It is important to have a team that brings together all aspects of healthcare operations, as building a hospital means so much more than constructing a physical structure. Project success also depends on establishing clear governance, including a Steering Committee and Project Executive.

Sanford Health Medical Center in Fargo story:
To ensure on time and on budget completion of the project, the team adopted an incident command center model, used in a disaster planning. The project team included not only traditional Construction, Facilities, Equipment, and IT teams, but also Communications & Media Relations, Human Resources, and Finance teams.

4. Design the Workflow First

A common mistake in facility design is starting with the design of physical components. The effect of this approach is often irreversible, causing staff to adjust their workflows in order to “make it work.” Building a new facility provides a tremendous opportunity to reevaluate existing workflows to optimize the flow of patients, staff, equipment and materials.

Sanford Health Medical Center
An integral part of the project team for the new medical center was a process improvement team, which assisted in redesigning workflow processes to leverage lessons learned from existing facilities and to stimulate new ideas for providing the best experience for patients, families, and staff. Based on that effort, the architecture and construction teams have received operational blueprints to be incorporated into the structural design.

5. Test, Test, Test

The best way to avoid costly mistakes and delays related to rework is testing. Focus on testing your layouts, materials and processes. This will ensure early intervention whenever necessary and will provide you with peace of mind about the choices your team has made.

Sanford Health Medical Center
Multiple elements of the design and construction went through rigorous testing procedures throughout the course of the project. Cement cast samples were being exposed to weather elements, sofa sleepers for patient rooms underwent testing in the ED and a local shopping mall. Nurses dropped water on the tile floor to see if it was slippery and mock-up headboards aided the optimal positioning of outlets for medical devices. All these experiences brought real-time feedback to vendors and suppliers who were willing to make modifications to their products. The testing process also served as a stamp of approval to proceed with final orders and creating procedural playbooks for staff.

About Sanford Health

Sanford Health is an integrated health system headquartered in the Dakotas. It is one of the largest health systems in the nation with 43 hospitals and nearly 250 clinics in nine states and three countries. Sanford Health’s 27,000 employees, including 1,400 physicians, make it the largest employer in the Dakotas.


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