The Evolving Healthcare Landscape

By: Tracy Morran, LEED Associate
Project Manager, Ware Malcomb San Diego

After attending the Healthcare Design Conference in Orlando, Florida I came back to California with a renewed sense of passion for the healthcare industry.

Although I have been working on healthcare projects for over ten years, the takeaways from this conference were remarkable.  I was familiar with some of the new, upcoming trends that were on the horizon from my work on various healthcare projects for clients such as Kaiser Permanente, Family Health Centers of San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital.  I gained significant insight about the integration of these design and construction trends and how they directly relate to the healthcare services being provided.

How Healthcare is Being Integrated into Communities and the New Design Direction for Facilities

The healthcare landscape in the United States is undergoing the most extensive change in its history. One of the key takeaways from the conference was the discussion about the causes and drivers of this industry shift.  The change is being driven by healthcare legislation, industry leadership and stakeholders, and an ever growing movement toward health and wellness.  Healthcare services are being interwoven into communities to offer greater access, increased ease of use and enhanced quality of service.  Leaders in the design and construction industry are playing a significant role in this evolution because what we design directly impacts the clients and communities as the end users.

 Within the Neighborhood

Fostered not only by the healthcare community, but by the dedication to improved environmental conditions, many new planning strategies and building legislation are encouraging green neighborhood planning.  Key planning concepts incorporate walking access to services and amenities and mixed-use design which includes healthcare services.  Health and wellness within these communities is promoted by both walking access to parks and outdoor activities and closely integrated access to healthcare services.

Within the Facility

The reorganization of traditional healthcare facility components and the blending of new healthcare design concepts including patient centered design, team-based care, lean design and the use of prototyping are all being integrated and balanced to create optimal, efficient, design outcomes for healthcare facilities.

Technological advancements enhance diagnostic & procedural capabilities, information sharing and patient/provider communication.  Technology integration is a critical component in healthcare planning & design.

As designers we see the lean design and technological components in the majority of new projects in the health care space.  The days of paper charts and patient file folders are gone.


Services are shifting from inpatient to outpatient.  Outpatient facilities are incorporating multiple services including diagnostic and ambulatory surgical, cancer treatments, behavioral health in addition to other preventative services.

As this shift continues ease of access and wayfinding for patients undergoing treatments becomes ever more important.  Pictured below is an example of a project that included branded environment and wayfinding components by the wm | graphics department.

Branded environments integrate concepts of biophilia and other rejuvenating strategies to enhance patient experience.  These outcomes are also key features of today’s healthcare landscape.  Biophilia is an element of design that leverages nature’s effects on bodies and minds to promote well-being.

I look forward to incorporating more of these concepts into new projects within our San Diego Healthcare community.

Tracy Morran is a Project Manager in Ware Malcomb’s San Diego office.  In addition to our core services, the San Diego office has specialized experience in healthcare projects.  Our company-wide Health Design practice is led by Director, Michael Petersen, who is based out of our Irvine office.  For more information on Ware Malcomb’s health care experience, please visit our website. 










Tracy Morran, LEED Associate

Project Manager









Michael Petersen, LEED AP BD+C

Director, Health Design