A healthcare system plans for resilience

How a not-for-profit health system enables resilience capabilities—and how you can, too.


Case Study: A healthcare system plans for resilience

Watch a video showing how one healthcare system saved time and money during a move by using Herman Miller modular casegoods and reusing existing product.

A non-profit health system with thousands of healthcare facilities across the US recognized the need for agility in their facility strategy. Deeply committed to environmental and financial stewardship, the organization sought out ways to make their burgeoning portfolio of facilities more efficient, effective, and agile. They were looking to reduce costs through economies of scale and wanted facilities that could respond to the constant changes and disruptions that happen as patient and organizational needs shift and new technologies, treatments, and processes are integrated.

Customer floor plans and elevation drawings.

Preparedness and performance

To compensate for the unknowability of the future, the Planning, Design, and Construction (PDC) team started planning for facilities that can respond to any eventuality and accommodate long-term, macro- and micro-level changes by putting the proper building blocks in place.

They understood how adaptive facilities could help them be good financial and environmental stewards and support their mission of delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to the most vulnerable. 

The strategic PDC team began by identifying the organizational needs and goals, engaging a cross-functional team for input, and developing standards for furniture performance guidelines. 

To reduce fragmentation and ensure consistency across locations, they turned to Herman Miller and its network of certified dealers. They worked together to develop standard processes for planning, designing, and executing facility projects to meet the needs of all stakeholders. Standardized room designs and product selections met stringent guidelines and were selected to coordinate with everything from construction materials to art and signage.

The result was a kit of parts that can be used across the floorplate and interchangeably across campuses.

“Creating a kit of parts gives them the ability to pivot their strategy for delivering the best and most advanced patient care without having to reinvest in casework and furniture and build a plan from the ground up each time.”
–Cassie Decker, senior account manager at OfficeWorks

Throughout the US, each region’s standards can be unique to that region but still in keeping with the national performance standards and brand palette. The furniture is timeless, easy to clean and care for, and durable. It also meets the requirements of healthcare settings across the floorplate, from lobbies to exam rooms. This allows the healthcare system to confidently exchange assets between facilities. 

Having a standards program saves time and money through more efficient programming and more effective reuse. It allows them to use their resources in fiscally and environmentally responsible ways, which is consistent with their mission.

How facility resilience supports their change in strategy

The recent relocation of this healthcare system’s clinics in Indiana demonstrates cost savings and waste reduction, as well as showing how partnering with Herman Miller and its dealer partners like OfficeWorks contributes to creating facilities that perform over time. 

The move was precipitated by a change in the organization’s strategy for providing the best patient care. An outpatient ambulatory clinic closed and two service lines (gastroenterology and pulmonary) expanded.

“We spent time with clinical staff determining how to best use existing modular components to help them succeed with new practice objectives,” Decker says, and they were able to re-use all the casework and furnishings in the new clinics. While they did have to order some additional furniture, repurposing saved them more than 50 percent of what it would have cost to order everything new—money they could redirect to patient care or additional facility improvements.

Repurposing cut costs by more than 50 percent over buying new.

But it accomplished another of the healthcare system’s goals, as well. “The client feels strongly about repurposing and keeping items out of landfills, and literally nothing from this project is going into the landfill, which is a win for everyone,” says Decker.

Benefits of working with a trusted partner

1. The streamlined, repeatable process takes less time
Because solutions have been thoughtfully selected up front (i.e., they meet safety requirements, stringent performance guidelines, finishes and palette standards, and express the corporate and regional brand) and can be continuously improved upon over time, there are fewer planning and coordinating meetings for each subsequent project.

2. Reliable day-to-day service, thanks to a local partner
Herman Miller and OfficeWorks are trusted, knowledgeable partners with decades of healthcare experience and a strong understanding of how to navigate the complexities of working in healthcare facilities. OfficeWorks is fully integrated into the customer’s team, and as such can ensure that the customer continually optimizes the investment they’re making in their care spaces. And when the customer has a warranty question or needs something replaced, they only need to make one phone call. The process is simple and efficient.

3. Stress-free disassembly and reinstallation
As part of its ongoing relationship with the customer, OfficeWorks executes Herman Miller's "Last Mile," a lean program focused on quality and efficiency during delivery and installation, so everything is on time and the experience is stress-free. During disassembly for this project, OfficeWorks organized the furnishings and supplies into large containers, one room per container. Along with the Herman Miller casework, seating, and carts, they handled the relocation of artwork, signage, diagnostic boards, refrigerators, and even glove holders.

For installation of Compass, they followed the standardized process they had set up front for execution: Rails and stiles, plumbing, electrical, tiles and components, inspection, and freestanding furniture. The entire process was smooth and seamless.

4. Continuity
When there’s staff turnover in the healthcare organization, Herman Miller and Office Works provide continuity of knowledge about product and process standards, knowing everything that went into each decision, and ensuring the customer gets the maximum benefit from their investment.

Herman Miller and OfficeWorks continue to help identify improvements nationally and locally, which are then incorporated into the standards. Technology needs change, new materials become available, or different options prove more effective. At the outset of the pandemic, for example, OfficeWorks suggested changing the waiting room chair standard to the stackable version of Valor so that when waiting rooms were able to go back to full capacity, the seating would already be available. In the meantime, the customer could easily store it.

OfficeWorks operates as if they were part of the customer’s facility team, down to knowing details like the technology group’s preference for the location of power and nurses’ preference for the depth of the work surface.

5. Cost efficiency
In this clinic move alone, the customer saved more than 50 percent of what it would have cost to buy everything new. In addition, the reuse allowed them to open their new clinic within a few weeks so they could start seeing patients faster and generating revenue sooner. While the pandemic makes it difficult to quantify how much faster, OfficeWorks completed the previous clinic for this same client approximately 33 percent faster than their typical build-out, according to the design and construction team.

What to look for in a partner

The healthcare system chose Herman Miller and their dealer network because they have all the capabilities needed to create a resilient facilities strategy:

  • Experienced professionals who rigorously research and understand the specific requirements of healthcare environments and act as valuable guides throughout the process
  • A solid operational foundation that includes strong design, comprehensive product offering, quality manufacturing, and reliable delivery and installation
  • A future-focused process to plan for an uncertain future—a process that begins at the outset of facility planning and enables flexibility, reconfigurability, adaptability
  • National coordination and communication and local partnering to deliver day-to-day service and ongoing improvements

Peace of mind

Because they did the foundational work of establishing an adaptive standards program with an experienced partner, the customer created resilient facilities that benefit the organization by:

  • Saving money
  • Streamlining planning 
  • Keeping products out of the landfill
  • Providing continuity of care by reducing downtime
  • Reinforcing their brand
  • Ensuring the ongoing relevance of their facilities

If you plan ahead and put all adaptive building blocks in place, like this customer did, you too can have resilient facilities.

Learn how Herman Miller can help you create a resilient healthcare facility.

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