This is a continuing series from Huddy HealthCare Solution’s ED Design Team that covers “issues to consider” in support of making your next ED design project a success.

Seek Innovation

The opportunity to re-design your existing emergency department doesn’t come along very often.  And, if you get the chance to design a completely new emergency department in either a new location on your campus or as part of a new hospital design, well,  that opportunity is even more infrequent.  So whether you are renovating your ED or building a completely new ED, you want to seek out as many innovative and new ideas as you can as you start the design process.

Operations, Technology AND Design

Too many times when an ED staff gets the chance to design a renovated or new ED, the clinicians on the hospital’s in-house design team (physicians, nurses, etc.) immediately jump to thinking about “more exam rooms,”  “more charting space,” or “a bigger waiting room.”  Basically, this reaction is just about getting more of what they currently have whether it be treatment spaces, support space or public areas.   You need to push yourself away from the “past” and venture in the “future.”  First, consider alternative operations and research all of the innovative ways that EDs are moving patients through their respective “ED systems.”  Research new technologies, advanced communication systems, and state-of-the-art equipment applications that are allowing other EDs to transform workflow to support rapid delivery of care.

Operations Before Environment

Push your in-house design team to consider the multitude of operational and technological advances that are shaping successful patient flow prior to focusing on creating a physical solution.  By doing this you will define “how” you want the ED to work which will in turn position you to create a futuristic ED design that supports future, innovating workflow and technology applications.  So, how do you position your in-house design team to be the “research engine” that will drive innovation for your project?  By looking to create a diverse team of creative people.


Diversity Created Through Multi-Generational and Multi-Disciplinary Thinking

When shaping your in-house design team that will be working closely with your facilities department and your selected architect on the ED design, please don’t just rely on your “old friends” from the ED to fill out your in-house design team.   As a leader in the ED you probably have some seniority within the department and have a few (if not many) people who you work with that are of a similar age to you and that that you count on every day for various levels of leadership.  While having some of these key senior leaders on your in-house design team will be beneficial, you still need to push for younger participants to add to your in-house team.  Don’t get caught up in the thought process where you think a younger person from your department hasn’t put in the decades of ED clinical work that you have and thus doesn’t deserve the right to be on the design team.   Younger participants bring an energy, enthusiasm and keen insights to a design project (and it doesn’t hurt to harness some of that youthful energy for guided research into alternative ED operations, technology and designs!).  Admittedly, some of their youthful ideas may seem strange or “off the wall” but remember that in early brainstorming periods you want to collect as many new and different and innovative ideas as you can for your project.  Now, down the road you may not integrate ALL ideas into the final design solution, but never limit creativity at the outset of a project.  A mix of senior and younger design team participants is a great way to deliver creativity to your project.

Also Think “Multi-Disciplinary”

Add the thought of “multidisciplinary” when creating your in-house design team.  Add people from the Information Technology (IT) department and from other ancillaries such as imaging, lab, pharmacy, security and other departments that you interact with daily in the ED.   Push your multidisciplinary team members to think to the future: how will their specific ancillary service be changing over the next 10 year and how will those changes affect interaction with the ED?  Ask them to complete research on where their services or technologies are headed and how the future ED can be shaped to take advantage of future innovations with regards to their services.  The intent is to understand how the ED will need be designed with flexibility in mind to incorporate these potential changes in the future.

In Summary: Seek Different Views

When creating an in-house design team you should be striving for different points-of-view and innovative ideas.  Designate a diverse group of people to assist in brainstorming and shaping the future ED and in the end your design will have the flexibility to integrate the known, and even the unknown, changes that are coming down the road with regards to the future delivery of emergency care.

If you would like more insights on ED design please contact Jon Huddy at