4 min read

Transforming Healthcare Design to Embrace New Technology

Transforming Healthcare Design to Embrace New Technology

Integrating Technology into Healthcare Design

When it comes to taking care of patients, healthcare technology should work hand-in-hand with clinical teams. And when it comes to integrating that technology – everything from the largest equipment in the OR to the smallest details, like securing the tools stored in drawers in patient rooms – Hoefer Welker brings experience and expertise to every project.

From start to finish, through every aspect of planning to the ribbon cutting, Hoefer Welker’s Clinical Technology Solutions (CTS) team works to ensure the client’s vision is incorporated into the design.

Gary Buss, vice president focused on technology and medical equipment planning on Hoefer Welker’s CTS team, marries his technology and healthcare backgrounds to expertly deliver the best solutions for clients, saving them time, money and resources.

Hoefer Welker, Buss says, does not simply ask clients what technologies they want. Instead, the CTS team recommends equipment and technologies for the space that the client may not even be aware exists.


“We try to lead those conversations,” Buss said. “I’m not the person doing the drawings, but I’m reviewing those drawings and suggesting why medical equipment, like an MRI machine or overhead procedure lights, needs to go in certain places. We also help with future planning. By thinking about ‘here’s what we’re putting in today, and here’s what may be coming in five years,’ we can potentially avoid tearing down walls later.”

Hoefer Welker’s client visioning sessions, or charettes, involve clinicians, nursing, unit secretaries, Biomed, security; essentially including everybody involved to determine what needs to be integrated into the healthcare facility. Then, the CTS team meets with the client’s technical team without the end-user in the room to figure out how to include what the healthcare team indicated they need to do their jobs.

“At the design phase, it’s my job to ensure that the technology is incorporated into the design,” Buss said.


Planning for the Future of Technology

Buss considers himself a technology futurist.

“We focus on the ‘stuff’ inside the healthcare facility, like the medical equipment and technology, so clinicians and nurses can focus on what they do best – care for patients. ”

Technology solutions include wired and wireless infrastructure, nurse call and clinical communications, workflow technology, visitor management systems, clinical alerts and alarm systems, mobility solutions, entertainment, location services, surveillance and other integrated systems.

The CTS team at Hoefer Welker attends conferences and sits on the committees setting the future standards of healthcare technology design. Roughly 80% of Buss’s job, he said, is reading and researching.

“And not just in healthcare, but I’m looking at what we are doing across the business, in hospitality and education, for example, for inspiration and to find out what works in the space and what doesn’t.”

Good technology, Buss said, can make a bad process happen really fast. The Hoefer Welker CTS team focuses on defining the process: What is it that you do? How do you do your job?

For instance, maybe a client wants to locate staff so that when a nurse walks into a patient room, the nurse call event is automatically canceled, or the bed exit alarm is deactivated. Technology can make the workflow better, safer and faster.

On the other hand, technology can also track if a nurse has not been in a room within the last hour or however often the medical record suggests, and tech can automatically call a wireless device or send a message to remind them to visit a specific room, making it proactive care instead of reactive.

“Whatever we do tomorrow will still be the standard today,” Buss said. “Basic technology integrations will still use network cabling or wireless networking, and while those may get better over time, the underlying infrastructure in healthcare facilities will remain the same, making future integration possible.”


A rural hospital, for example, budgeted for a community hospital over two years ago and won’t break ground until the end of this year. Since then, it was determined that an expansion of that original design was needed. Hoefer Welker identified specific areas of concern and challenges.

The client wants the community to see that they are a modern hospital. Technology can do that, Buss said, none of which was budgeted originally.

A visioning session was conducted to determine what a modern hospital looks like. Through that, the minimum equipment needed was decided, like a nurse call system, overhead page and other devices. After finding the baseline, Hoefer Welker then presented a “smart” hospital and technology that would be nice to have but not required.


Medical Equipment Planning

CTS also helps clients with medical equipment planning, essentially architectural programming and maintaining a database of all the products that go into the building.

“This planning is what takes a healthcare facility from being a hotel to a hospital, everything from the MRI machines all the way down to the point of care testing device, like handheld blood glucose monitors and other diagnostic devices,” Buss said.

Each product is tracked in a database by manufacturer and model number, pricing, department, floor, and the room it will live in. The designers then know exactly what must go into each room, all the way down to the trash can, so they can right-size the space.


“We get involved early in the project to help establish budgets,” Buss said. “We have templated rooms already made for new clients. If they say we need to get a quick equipment budget for a 25-bed hospital, we can put that together and then refine it down to specific brands of products, helping them develop a budget and space plan.”

The CTS team will attend design meetings and consult with teams from materials management, supply chain, Biomed, etc., to determine the specifications needed for each piece of equipment. That equipment is then modeled in three dimensions on the architect’s plans. This process is followed through the entire project, from design to procurement.

For instance, if a hospital is planning to install a television in a patient’s room, the bracket for that TV will be tracked separately because a contractor might mount the bracket, but the TV vendor might hang the set onto that bracket.

“We understand how all of that works, taking the burden of tracking and planning of those details away from the client,” Buss said.


Planning for the Unforeseeable

You can’t always anticipate things like a global pandemic, but you can leverage technology to minimize disruption when the unforeseen occurs. Hoefer Welker’s CTS team applies the equipment that supports lessons learned in other buildings that are well in tune with where technology is going in the future.

Hoefer Welker’s reputation in the healthcare industry and in technology equipment planning is second to none. Clients rely on Hoefer Welker’s expertise to deliver facilities that exceed the expectations of healthcare workers and, ultimately, the patients.

“A lot of the projects that we get are repeat customers that come back to us because they like the work that we do,” Buss said. “That’s what I’m most proud of.”

Contact us today to find out more information on how Hoefer Welker’s Clinical Technology Systems team can design an innovative approach to your healthcare facility design, construction and operations.


Gary Buss

Vice President

Gary brings experience in the healthcare technology industry including all facets of nurse-call installations, integrated OR design, security systems, audio-visual, data communications and technology interoperability. He has managed a leading large-form low-voltage design team and has been involved in healthcare projects spanning from California to the Middle East. Gary’s experience enables him to assist clients to develop technology goals, define advanced integrations, manage technology designs and implementations.

Connect with Gary
Designing for Mental and Physical Wellness: Hoefer Welker's Holistic Approach to Intentional Behavioral Healthcare Design

Designing for Mental and Physical Wellness: Hoefer Welker's Holistic Approach to Intentional Behavioral Healthcare Design

With Mental Health Awareness Month coming to a close, there’s no better time to reflect on the impact of thoughtful design for behavioral health...

Read More
AdventHealth Shawnee Mission opens $76M cancer institute

AdventHealth Shawnee Mission opens $76M cancer institute

AdventHealth Shawnee Mission is unveiling its new $76.5 million cancer institute, consolidating all cancer services into a single building and...

Read More
ENR 2024 Top 500 Design Firm

ENR 2024 Top 500 Design Firm

Hoefer Welker is ranked in the ENR's 2024 Top 500 Design Firm list. Despite the growing demand for design services and labor challenges, our firm has...

Read More