Kaiser's "Small Hospital, Big Idea" design contest -- the first effort in the health care industry to open-source innovation -- has yielded winning concepts from three companies that specialize in sustainable architecture.
Contest winners Aditazz, Mazzetti Nash Lipsey Burch and Perkins+Will, whose selection was announced this morning, will now help the health care giant design a small, 100-bed hospital -- mostly likely in Southern California -- with a net-zero environmental impact and a target date for ground-breaking within the next five to eight years.
"We did not expect that we would have tie winners," said John Kouletsis, Kaiser Permanente's vice president for facilities planning. "But we have phenomenal teams here. Together they will come up with a hybrid solution that will go leagues beyond what each team would do individually and way beyond where Kaiser would have gone alone."
The year-long competition is part of Kaiser's sustainability campaign to bring more environmental and social responsibility to its operations from its facilities -- which feature prominent programs on renewable energy, waste reduction and community health -- to its supply chain.
The idea of sustainability melds with Kaiser's focus on a more holistic approach to health care, one that's aimed at engaging the members of its health care plans to make better choices in diet, exercise and stress management with help from Kaiser care providers in order to promote wellness. The rationale is that if you help people live healthier lives, fewer of them will need to stay in hospitals -- facilities that consume huge amounts of energy and water and have a considerable environmental footprint.
The notion of building up a healthier clientele, rather than just treating the sick, is at the core of the small hospital concept. Ideally, such facilities would feature fewer beds but a more comprehensive array of client services without compromising expectations for medical care.
Kaiser, a leader in efforts to green the health care industry, sought help in coming up with new ideas in hospital design that would address sustainability from a 360-degree perspective and meet the needs of a population that expects more, faster, highly connected and tech-smart service from health care providers, Kouletsis told me during the course of the competition.
That's why KP decided to open its doors to ideas from all comers with the "Small Hospital, Big Idea" competition. While open-sourcing innovation has become the thing for culling cutting edge solutions from a broad pool (witness the success of the X PRIZE and GE's Ecomagination Challenge competitions), it is a new and different approach for the health care industry, which, Kouletsis points out, is better known for risk aversion than innovation.
Kaiser also went one step further in its open call for innovation, the winning teams told me in an interview yesterday. It did not harness concepts to a specific cost per square foot parameters and told contestants that the organization would consider designs that might entail more upfront costs than traditional building plans as long as the lifecycle costs and environmental impacts would be greatly reduced.
Even among innovative health care companies, "that's never been done before -- it's groundbreaking innovation among innovators," said Felicia Cleper-Borkovi, who leads health care design initiatives for Aditazz.
Next Page: Standout features from the winning design concepts