More Than Just Data: How Adopting a Framework for Decision-Making Can Transform Facility Planning

The healthcare industry is inundated with data. Hospitals and health systems receive an influx of information from a multitude of sources such as the Electronic Health Record (EHR), insurance claims, employee and patient surveys, suppliers and vendors. Furthermore, an increase in mergers and acquisitions of hospital systems over the last decade has compounded data complications. Many health systems are left dealing with siloed datasets across their vast networks, as consolidating and combining this data into one comprehensive, standardized system is an incredibly costly and challenging endeavor, according to a recent Gordian survey of facility planning leaders.

Although data is foundational to thoughtful and strategic facility planning, leveraging data alone is not enough, as it still tends to be vulnerable to misguided action and subjective thinking. Instead, healthcare leaders should adopt a validated, comprehensive decision-making framework to achieve authoritative facility planning. This will ensure that they realize the full potential of their data, transforming what has been an overwhelming headache into a manageable and strategic asset.

Furthermore, adopting a framework for decision-making drastically improves how facility planning is approached by healthcare leaders. It can even transform facility planning from merely supporting a healthcare organization’s mission to helping define the mission.

Check out this eBook to learn more about how hospitals use objective FCA context to generate winning investment strategies and long-term capital plans.

Creating a Facility Planning Framework

We’ve put together a few considerations to transform your facility planning practices based on our experience collecting and analyzing more than 1.65 billion square feet of data each year.  These suggestions can help you filter out the noise and make decisions quickly and objectively based only on relevant data.

These six simple considerations can help your team take the right action at the right time:

  1. Emphasize objectivity: Organizations need to make the most objective facility planning decisions possible using concrete insights. Without an emphasis on objectivity, healthcare organizations are vulnerable to making facility planning choices based on personal opinions and limited experiences. This can lead to investments that don’t meet patient or community needs and therefore do not reflect organizational mission.
  2. Account for historical performance: Historical facilities performance data can be used to demonstrate a need for potential investment. This may include patient utilization data from the EHR, claims data from insurers, patient experience survey results and data from facility assessments, which provide a reliable inventory of all physical assets that require funding to maintain.
  3. Align space, capital and operations: Most healthcare systems take a siloed approach to facility planning, neglecting to look holistically at their whole portfolio of buildings and operations. This can lead to poorly executed investments and more expenses. To avoid these negative outcomes, evaluate the entire inventory of facilities for opportunities to optimize the use of space, capital spending and operational efforts.
  4. Integrate disparate datasets when possible: Although it’s costly for healthcare organizations to integrate disjointed datasets, there are benefits to doing so, such as gleaning new insights and reducing inefficiencies. Given the potential advantages, there should be an effort to integrate datasets as much as feasibly possible.
  5. Establish a hierarchy of needs to focus investments: You likely have many projects to consider, but the realities of capital and resource constraints make it vital to prioritize them properly. To intelligently determine which investments to make, select projects that align with the organization’s mission, taking into account facility conditions, community needs, budget, staff bandwidth and more.
  6. Activate story-telling and collaboration: As facility planners present new projects, they should demonstrate how the proposal will help the organization achieve its mission. Additionally, facility planning should be collaborative, with input from key stakeholders such as employees and patients.

You can integrate all of these considerations into your decision-making framework, add some or leave some out. The degree to which you adopt them will depend on the structure and capacity of your organization.

Want to explore how to have more productive conversations on facilities investment value with leadership? Here are four steps to enriching your facilities planning practices.

The Benefits of a Facility Planning Framework

Developing a comprehensive facility planning framework positively transforms how healthcare organizations approach decision-making at every level. For starters, it fosters communication and collaboration by bringing more people to the table. Facilities personnel, for example, often have valuable input that goes unheard simply because no one asks them to share it. Yet, considering a broad spectrum of voices and looking at data holistically allows for a greater understanding of space, capital and operational activity. Incorporating these insights into planning conversations helps ensure broad consensus on priorities and moves facility planning from being merely a technical discussion to a conversation about the larger purpose of the organization.

Having a decision-making framework in place enables leaders to make strategic facility decisions that account for future demands and potential risks. By being proactive rather than reactive, healthcare organizations can attain vast cost savings through smarter facility investments. This change in mindset even encourages leaders to approach deferred maintenance differently, viewing it through a risk management lens rather than as a nuisance. Finally, while unexpected situations will always arise, the ability to make informed decisions quickly allows organizations to adapt to shifting priorities and urgent needs.

Why Healthcare Organizations Need a Strategic Partner

The task of adopting a decision-making framework is challenging for healthcare organizations faced with limited resources and slim operating margins. Gordian works alongside healthcare organizations to help you create your own decision-making framework and guide you through each step, from data acquisition and analysis to leadership support and alignment. Having a third-party partner with a fresh perspective can make profound impacts, and Gordian brings experience and expertise to every institution we work with.

Additionally, after your framework is implemented, Gordian offers guidance and performance tracking to assess whether your organization is on the right track. We help you prioritize the right facilities needs at the right time, so you can get more done and be ready for any situation.

From creating a comprehensive facilities plan, to procuring qualified contractors, to optimizing existing spaces, Gordian offers solutions for healthcare facilities at any phase of the building lifecycle.


About Gordian

Gordian is the leader in facility and construction cost data, software and services for all phases of the building lifecycle. A pioneer of Job Order Contracting, Gordian’s solutions also include proprietary RSMeans data construction costs and Facility Intelligence Solutions. From planning to design, to procurement, construction and operations, Gordian’s solutions help clients maximize efficiency, optimize cost savings and increase building quality.