Managing Project Costs by Evaluating Space Utilization

Right-Sizing Healthcare Spaces: Reducing Costs Through Smart Space Utilization

Richard Pizzi, AIA, CEO | June 2024

The cost of developing projects has substantially increased in recent years. Construction labor and materials, long lead times for specific building components, inflation, and high interest rates have all been attributed to the sustained increase in project costs. In simple terms, for new construction, the cost for one Exam Room now exceeds $100,000. Now, more than ever, the amount of space you build can impact your bottom line.

Our industry often falls into the trap of programming healthcare facilities based on intuition, benchmarks, repetition of past practices, peak patient volume days, or simply the desire to create as much “revenue generating space” as possible. You may find that 90% of the time, your building is 30% to 50% underutilized. With the understanding that clinical staff cost more than buildings, can we program and design a facility that gives Providers the space they need to see patients, yet does not feel empty 1/3 of the time?

How do we “right size” medical office and ambulatory spaces? Space programming should include objective, data informed analysis that evaluates the impact of past, current, and anticipated patient volumes, Provider schedules (morning, mid-day, afternoon, and evening), process/cycle time, and workflow. The programming process should include: (1) identification of long-term strategic initiatives and service lines, (2) evaluation of current operations, (3) data analysis, (4) exploration of future operations models, (5) functional space program development, and (6) testing and validating the assumptions through utilization analysis and dynamic simulation modeling.

Along with effective space programming, we encourage our clients to implement a flexible clinical design that promotes the expansion and contraction of practices on a daily basis, with unassigned patient care space, thus allowing multiple practices to share resources on those rare peak volume days.

Proper analysis and space utilization validation empowers your team to confidently “right-size” your program to promote staff and patient satisfaction as well as operational efficiency. Basing space needs on actual demands, and not intuition, results in the reduction of square footage; ultimately reducing operations, energy, and maintenance expenses for years to come.

Let’s talk about how your space is being used and explore opportunities to right-size.

About Richard Pizzi

Richard Pizzi, AIA, CEO

603.622.5450 Extension 120 |
Rich is the CEO of Lavallee Brensinger Architects and brings nearly 30 years of experience, remarkable enthusiasm, and passion for healthcare and medical education design. He has successfully managed projects of all sizes, with a focus on innovative design solutions, clear communications, and effective schedule and cost controls.