University of Minnesota's New $165M Clinic Opens

Is the new facility a glimpse of the future of health care?

University of Minnesota's New $165M Clinic Opens
A newly opened five-story building takes design cues from Apple retail stores, current open-office concepts and modern airline check-in procedures. But it’s not a new office building or apartment complex: it’s the University of Minnesota Health Clinics & Surgery Center. Planners did not want the building to feel like just another clinic.
“Essentially we wanted to take the barriers down between patients and our staff,” said Mary Johnson, chief operating officer of University of Minnesota Physicians, which manages the center.
Upon entering the building, patients won’t find a standard check-in desk. Instead, they’re met by a concierge with a tablet. Patients are encouraged to enter most information about themselves online at home, so that they aren’t burdened with paperwork at the clinic. Patients are issued location-monitoring badges so staff can track them throughout the building.
The new project cost $165 million; the medical equipment inside the building cost an additional $40 million. Some of its clinics opened on February 22; the new building, housing 37 specialties under one roof, was fully open on February 29.
The airline industry might seem like an unlikely inspiration for a clinic, but Johnson said that they were trying to find a more efficient system for patients to register.
“We did look to the airline industry: being able to do pretty much everything from home so you don’t have to spend a lot of time providing that information when you get here,” said Johnson.
Open office designs have become increasingly popular in workplace environments, but Johnson said that it made sense to bring a similar philosophy to the new outpatient clinics. The building has no private offices.
”We built collaborative stations throughout all of our clinics,” said Johnson, who noted that they worked to cluster clinic groups near other clinics with which clinicians frequently consult.
Johnson said that even though it’s still early, many staffers are already enthusiastic and have met colleagues with whom they had previously only exchanged emails.
“Just within three weeks we’re finding a lot more collaboration,” said Johnson.
The clinics relocated from the Phillips-Wangensteen and Mayo Buildings on campus, as well as other buildings on the West Bank, to the new facility.
“We were out of space,” said Johnson. “The space was very outdated.”
The new Clinics & Surgery Center is owned by University of Minnesota and leased to M Health, which is a partnership between University of Minnesota Physicians and Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services.
The partnership between Fairview and the University goes back to 1997 when Fairview purchased University of Minnesota Hospital and Clinics. The alignment continues to evolve: Last fall the University’s Board of Regents, Fairview and University of Minnesota Physicians signed a letter of intent to combine Fairview and University of Minnesota Physicians into a “fully integrated academic health system.”
The 342,000-square-foot clinic building is located at 909 Fulton Street SE in Minneapolis on the eastern rim of the University’s East Bank campus near Stadium Village. The project was designed by CannonDesign, which has 16 global offices.
In downtown Minneapolis, the Hennepin County Medical Center is under construction on a similar new project for its clinics. The new $220.8 million HCMC project is slated to open in January 2018.
At the university, Johnson noted that there’s room for future growth: “We have the option for expansion in both directions, to the west and to the east.”

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