Jeff Taylor, MPH, has a big circle drawn around Oct. 3 on his calendar. The date marks when the first patients will be seen in the new building at 60 Fenwood Road, and Taylor says he can’t wait for them to experience the world-class facility and start benefitting from all it has to offer.
“From the lighting and layout of clinics to the artwork that hangs on the walls, every aspect of this building has been designed with the patient in mind,” said Taylor, executive director of Ambulatory Operations and Management for the building. “I’m very much looking forward to having these doors open to our Brigham community in just a few weeks.”
Taylor, who assumed his new role in July after serving as director of Operations and Network Development in Orthopaedics and the Brigham Orthopaedic and Arthritis Center, explained that the building was constructed to be a “one-stop shop.” Several amenities for patients, including underground parking, clinics, clinical trial exam rooms, state-of-the-art imaging technologies and even a new cafe will be available under one roof.
“We’ll have larger and more private check-in areas, which will improve patient flow,” Taylor said. “What’s also very exciting is that research will be conducted right in the building. The purpose is to get that research down into the clinics as soon as possible.”
One example of this one-stop-shop approach to care is how the BWH Neurosciences Center, which will be housed on the first floor of the new building, will provide patient care. Physicians from the center recently participated in a retreat organized by Angela O’Neal, MD, clinical director for the Neurosciences in the new building, to brainstorm ways they can improve communication, facilitate research and teaching, as well as make patient visits as convenient as possible. This may mean booking multiple related appointments for the same day—with, for instance, a neurosurgeon, neurologist and neuropsychiatrist—without long gaps of time in the waiting room.
“For many of our Neurosciences patients, they need input into a diagnosis or treatment from many sources,” said Rich Fernandez, MBA, senior vice president of Ambulatory Services. “The appointments will be scheduled in one central location so that the providers are coming to the patient versus the patient having to travel to different locations for these appointments.”
An Environment for Healing
This approach represents a big change, as it marks the first time the three core Neurosciences departments—Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry—are in the same building. Clinicians are currently scattered across BWH, sometimes making collaboration and communication difficult.
Karen Costenbader, MD, MPH, of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy and director of the Lupus Program, also anticipates patient satisfaction with the new setup will be very high.
By having Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy research housed just a couple of floors up from the clinical space, Costenbader said there will be more opportunities for interaction and collaboration.
“We will have many more private areas for patient recruitment and enrollment in clinical trials, study visits, filling out questionnaires and more,” Costenbader said. “Study patients will no longer have to travel around to other parts of the hospital and research can be conducted much more seamlessly with clinical care.”
In addition, some departments moving into the new building will have more exam rooms to see patients, which translates into greater appointment availability and the opportunity to recruit new providers, Taylor said. Orthopaedics will have 24 exam rooms, compared to 15 now on the main campus. Rheumatology will have 21 exam rooms, up from 15. Musculoskeletal Radiology will have eight X-ray rooms in the new building, adding to the six X-ray rooms at the hospital currently shared by all of Ambulatory Radiology.
“Right now, Orthopaedics tells their patients to come an hour before an X-ray,” Taylor said. “But they will be reducing this time due to improved Radiology capacity so patients can arrive closer to their appointment time.”
Aida Faria, chief technologist in Radiology, says she’s excited to see the department’s imaging services expand and improve.
“Our MRI and CT scanners have the newest imaging technology,” she said. “We will also have ‘wide bore’ scanners, which allow more room and comfort inside the machine for patients.”
Another way the building will enhance the patient experience is the eventual implementation of a new technology that can monitor a patient’s activity in the building, using a small device that stores no identifying information. If a patient chooses to wear the device during a visit, it can monitor the times spent waiting for and seeing a provider. Operations teams can see real-time information about if and where patients are waiting and retrospectively analyze the aggregated data to identify areas for cycle time improvement.
Steve Dempsey, director of Planning and Construction, believes patients will also appreciate the new Infusion Suite on the building’s ground level.
Patients there will receive care in larger, more private rooms bathed in natural sunlight and with views of a garden right outside. The outdoor garden provides more than pleasing aesthetics; plantings are situated to provide privacy by obstructing pedestrians’ view into the suite.
The garden is one of many examples of the patient-first approach in the new building, said Dempsey. While giving a tour to a group of visitors recently, Dempsey said they were impressed by all of the deliberate touches that went into building a facility that will soon help clinicians and scientists change the future of medicine.
“We know that a lot of patients and families will be spending considerable time in our new building,” Dempsey said. “As the group made its way through several parts of the new space, they said the building was a joy to be in—they’ve never seen anything like it before. That’s the kind of reaction we are hoping for from the Brigham community.”