Jim Pisula of Pisula Development leads design discussion at 2021 BOMA conference

November 18, 2021

The firm’s Chief Investment Officer shared his expertise on best practices and strategies on a panel about how healthcare design has changed post-COVID-19

Jim Pisula (far right) moderated a panel on healthcare design at the 2021 BOMA International’s Medical Office Buildings + Healthcare Real Estate Conference in Dallas.

THE WOODLANDS, Texas, Nov. 18, 2021 – Jim Pisula, Chief Investment Officer of The Woodlands -based Pisula Development Company moderated an educational panel at the 2021 BOMA International’s Medical Office Buildings + Healthcare Real Estate Conference Nov. 1-3 in the Omni Dallas Hotel in Dallas.

Mr. Pisula and other healthcare real estate (HRE) experts shared their thoughts on design strategies and best practices for continuing to treat patients while also keeping them safe. The panel was titled “How Will Healthcare Design Change Post-COVID-19?”

In addition to Mr. Pisula, the panel included Abbie Clary, Director of Health, CannonDesign; Christine Gorham, Director, Development, Caddis Healthcare Real Estate; Drew Garst, Principal, Boulder Associates; and Meredith Wardwell, Enterprise Director of Construction, Centura Health.

The panelists discussed how COVID-19 has already had a profound impact on healthcare design. Overnight, healthcare spaces are being re-engineered to accommodate a new patient population and to deal with upended normal patient care.

Mr. Pisula noted, “A big topic is waiting rooms and how we will wait for care. Developers are giving a lot of thought to this and to what design changes are needed in waiting rooms. Do we need larger waiting rooms to space people out or should we shrink waiting rooms?”

The panelists discussed how more and more developers and health systems are considering reducing the amount of space in waiting rooms and converting it into revenue-generating space. Several noted that many healthcare systems are using technology like never before to check patients in and track them, thus reducing the need for face-to-face encounters. Many said they also believe that administrative space, private offices and private cubicles may soon become “a thing of the past.”

The group also discussed a technology trend of using large digital display TVs to ensure that patients aren’t isolated in their private rooms. The TVs allow patients to confer remotely with their primary care physician, their specialists and even family members.

The panelists noted how telemedicine has increased during the pandemic and is benefiting everyone, especially patients. More and more patients are authorizing their physicians to include others such as family members and specialists in FaceTime and Zoom meetings. This allows everyone to share information, ask questions and “be on the same page” regarding the patient’s care. It was noted, however, that this could be a “double-edged sword” for physicians, because the increased number of people and questions could take more time.

Mr. Pisula noted, “I really like this telemedicine process, the idea of patching in more people than just the experts. This allows for more coordination of care. It also is so critical for family members to be patched in, especially during COVID when they can’t visit their sick relatives in person and be there to give guidance to the physicians and nurses.”

The panelists also discussed a range of other design topics, including barriers between patients and staff, more robust HVAC systems, and more outdoor spaces for patients and their families. Several panelists mentioned that some of their provider clients are requesting new respite rooms and shower facilities for harried staff members.

Convertible rooms was also an important topic. Several panelists said that flexibility is becoming one of the most important words used when dealing with medical building design. They said it’s critical to have larger floor plates where the walls can move internally and you can join all of the space or reduce it, as necessary. These flexible walls allow for easier changes, such as having an exam room one day and a conference room the next day.

Some of the panelists said their hospital clients are revising their ambulatory strategies because they learned during the pandemic that they have gaps in some markets and are losing market share to competitors.

Finally, a major takeaway from the panel discussion was that more than anyone currently expects, healthcare will be centered more and more in peoples’ homes in the next 20 years.

About Pisula Development Company

Pisula Development Company is the development arm of RRC Medical Real Estate LLC (RRC), a full-service, commercial real estate firm with offices in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. RRC’s headquarters are located in The Woodlands, Texas, a suburb of Houston. RRC provides property, asset and facilities management services for over 2.5 million square feet of commercial real estate. Through its Pinecroft Realty LLC subsidiary, RRC provides leasing and brokerage services. RRC strives to provide these services in a cost-effective manner while creating an alignment of interest among all parties. RRC is also committed to developing energy efficient buildings when possible. As a recognized leader and innovator in the industry, RRC continues to attract and retain a distinguished and growing roster of tenants, lenders and investment partners. For more information, please visit www.PinecroftRealty.com.