Texas Children’s Hospital redefines patient care with satellite campus business model

November 2014
By Gary Owens, AIA, ACHA, LEED AP, Senior Principal, FKP Architect

The ability to support overall organizational strategy while simultaneously creating value for patients and the organization is an unfamiliar and untested business model for many hospitals. Yet, it’s a change Texas Children’s Hospital believes must occur to meet the demand for readily accessible services in growing areas.

Texas Children’s recognizes that patients and families do not access care in the same way they have historically, and that it’s the hospital’s responsibility to evolve its care model to meet the needs of its patients. In response, Texas Children’s has taken an innovative approach to its growth strategies through investment in satellite hospital campuses which offer more services than traditional community clinics and health care centers. They believe providing care at a satellite campus creates value for both the patient and the organization through increased access and an enhanced patient experience.

Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, currently in design in The Woodlands area north of Houston, is the latest project to come out of the hospital’s new business model. From concept to creation, the new campus will solidify the way the hospital and its partners deliver health care services.

Focus & Feasibility

For more than 10 years, Texas Children’s has operated The Woodlands Health Center, offering specialty care, supported by inpatient pediatric and neonatal care at neighboring St Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital. However, the acute and critical care required for children has always been somewhat difficult for an adult hospital. As well, population growth in The Woodlands area has created considerable stress on the existing Houston-based hospitals and clinics. The Woodlands population already exceeds 1.1 million people, with 30 percent of the people under 18 years of age. The area is expected to realize double digit growth over the next three years.

In light of growth and the need for easier patient access, Texas Children’s sought to provide more services than were possible at the Health Center and put into practice the recently successful health care expansion business model of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus in Katy, Texas.

In late 2012, Texas Children’s called on FKP Architects to prepare a feasibility study for a full-service satellite campus. The study outlined specific services that could be successful at the satellite campus and evaluated land for the purpose of creating a second Texas Children’s-owned full service satellite campus.

Soon after, the hospital opted to pursue a multi-phased care service and building approach.

Considering Operationalization

With guidance from FKP, Texas Children’s focused on operationalization, or putting the initial strategic plan in motion. The goal of this phase of the business model was to define the satellite’s individual purpose, as well as its greater role within the organizational strategy. The broad considerations addressed required involvement of hospital administrators, medical staff and board members to get a holistic view of how a satellite might function on day 1, day 1,000 and beyond.

The hospital needed to determine the most effective leadership structure, the campus’ level of autonomy, the provider model (pure private, pure academic or hybrid), level of patient acuity, and the expectations of the satellite campus to contribute to system-wide growth.

Staff had to evaluate patient needs, census volatility and staffing considerations. They discussed the time of year a hospital opens may affect volume trends and needed to strategically plan for future growth.

Texas Children’s and FKP worked together to identify projected patient volumes for a full-service hospital and the creation of a room-by-room space program that identified how this new satellite campus would begin and how it would, or could, evolve.

Concept to Reality

Following the completion and formal approval of the space needs for the new campus, Texas Children’s Facilities Planning and Development team engaged Tellepsen Builders to establish a construction budget based on the new space program and the building quality of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, the hospital’s first satellite facility. Texas Children’s board approved funding soon after.

Unlike Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, which added services later, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands will open with pediatric intensive care, sports medicine clinic, and expanded emergency and radiology services. The campus will open with full-time hospital-based physicians.

The initial construction of the new satellite campus is currently in design. It will include the construction of a full-service hospital, dedicated ambulatory clinic building, central energy plant, a 1,000 car parking garage and site development. The outpatient clinic building is expected to open in fall 2016 and the inpatient hospital building is set to open in spring 2017.

For Texas Children’s, the steps taken to plan and develop the new campus within its satellite- based business model have been successful. The hospital plans to continue its community outreach approach as a way to ensure it is providing the right pediatric care when and where it’s needed at the convenience of patients and families.