Lack of access to emergency departments (ED) is an increasing public health issue. When a local hospital system is able to open a new ED, they can effectively improve healthcare delivery and patient outcomes. There are many factors to consider for health system operations teams as they wrestle with how to plan for and build out new service line locations. It’s important for the marketing teams responsible for promoting these new openings to have an understanding of what it takes to successfully launch these service lines.
We sat down with Nan Bacon, who was Manager of Consumer Experience at Shawnee Mission Health during the opening of the new Overland Park ED, to discuss her team’s operational strategy behind developing a new ED location.
When Shawnee Mission Health decided to open a new Emergency Department in Overland Park, describe some of the up-front work that needed to be done to get the project off the ground.
Operationally speaking, there were two very important first steps:
- High-level market analysis. Shawnee Mission Health conducted this analysis to understand where their patients are coming from throughout the greater Kansas City area.
- Understanding population growth. By understanding the population growth of the city, Shawnee Mission Health could bring their services closer to where patients live and work.
As residents seek out neighborhoods and communities, convenient access to high-quality health care is often an important factor in their decision process. This analysis pointed them to the up-and-coming area of BlueHawk (in Overland Park, KS) which provides a great opportunity for expansion – geographical location, ease of access, population growth, proximity to quality educational facilities and retail growth, to name a few.
Shawnee Mission Health previously opened an ED at the Prairie Star location. Were you able to incorporate learnings from the Prairie Star opening for the Overland Park location?
Yes, the design of the Emergency Department at our Overland Park Campus started with a discussion between the emergency physicians, nursing staff, architects, patients and leadership to understand what elements of that design worked well (that we want to incorporate and build upon) and also what elements of that design provided the most opportunity for improvement, whether from a patient experience perspective or from an operational efficiency standpoint. Once those elements were outlined, the team got to work identifying creative solutions to each challenge and then building upon those design elements that we wanted to maintain.
In addition to the creative ideas brought forth by the design team, Shawnee Mission Health leadership also called upon the internal expertise of other leaders and participants in recent projects that have been completed within our parent system, Adventist Health System, in other parts of the country. Several innovative ideas came to light throughout this process that we were able to incorporate, which allowed us to provide a physical facility that enhances the patient experience and further facilitates the personalized attention that each patient receives when they visit Shawnee Mission Health Overland Park.
Has the ED location been successful? What has the feedback been?
I am pleased to say that the response and support from the residents, business leaders and physicians has been outstanding. We are very blessed to have a great team of skilled physicians, nurses, technologists, support staff and leadership to ensure that our patients receive the best care and have the best experience possible. We have hosted many events throughout the year that provide the community with an opportunity to become familiar with the campus, our services and our team before they have an emergency and find themselves in need of care. This has been key to the continued growth of the Emergency Department and the facility as a whole. The Emergency Department specifically is continuing to gain momentum each month as more and more residents receive care here and then share their experience with family, friends and coworkers. Our aim to provide Much More Than Medicine is evident in each visit, and as more and more community members are treated in the Emergency Department, we are truly able to fulfill Shawnee Mission Health’s mission of Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ.
Overall, what have you learned from this process?
There is no doubt that health care is changing and consumer expectations are changing along with it. In all of our recent expansion efforts, we have been very intentional to start the design process with the consumer in mind. This process starts with asking several questions: What does the consumer expect from Shawnee Mission Health? What can we provide/do that would enhance their experience? How can we then exceed those expectations with the design and provide more than what they were expecting? How can we provide support for not just our patients, but also for their families who interact with the space and who may be experiencing anxiety about their loved one?
In answering these questions, we are able to create spaces that feel much different than traditional health care settings and are functional in today’s health care landscape, but are also adaptable for any changes on the horizon.