Healthcare Transformation > Re-Imagining Healthcare Buildings

Re-Imagining Healthcare Buildings

By Gianrico Farrugia, M.D.

Mayo Clinic is re-imagining how to use physical space to care for patients. This once-in-three-generation opportunity to transform hospital infrastructure will change the patient experience by accelerating medical breakthroughs, enhancing therapies, and increasing access to exceptional care. Join Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., President and CEO, in exploring how Mayo Clinic is redefining the future of medicine.


Across the globe, we are providing 21st century healthcare in 20th century buildings. Not only do we need new and better spaces, but we must also rethink how we use space in healthcare, including how to merge inpatient, outpatient and digital care into a platform model of healthcare that is seamless, dynamic and self-improving.

A History of Transformation

Mayo Clinic has a rich history of inventing and reinventing the future of exceptional, Category-of-One care for patients. For example, in 1928, Mayo Clinic opened the Plummer Building, which fostered the integrated group practice of medicine by bringing together multiple medical specialists under one roof and facilitating medical record sharing via an innovative pneumatic tube system. Three decades later, Mayo Clinic studied and developed a novel concept at the time — the radial or “circular” nursing unit, with a central desk surrounded by patient rooms that enabled the care team to see all the patients, all of the time. These design concepts became models for how people practiced medicine in the United States.

Today, we continue to lead patient-centered healthcare transformation through our Bold. Forward. strategy, which importantly includes designing space for the future of care. Launched five years ago, Bold. Forward. aims to discover more Cures for our patients; Connect people and data to create new scalable knowledge; and Transform our entire healthcare system from a linear pipeline model to an entirely new model — a scalable, highly collaborative platform model. But to accomplish Bold. Forward., we must also think creatively about the space we need for our patients, our staff, and a transformed healthcare system.

Bold. Forward. Unbound.

Bold. Forward. Unbound. is our vision for the future of healthcare infrastructure and represents a once-in-three-generations investment across all our sites. Physical transformation is already underway at Mayo Clinic in Florida, Mayo Clinic in Arizona, and Mayo Clinic Health System, and the Bold. Forward. Unbound. in Rochester plan was unveiled last fall.

The goal of Bold. Forward. Unbound. is not simply different buildings, but radically better spaces that bring teams and patients together in an environment that is designed to transform the patient experience, advance teamwork, create more cures, and improve outcomes.

The physical spaces where today’s care teams work, conduct research and train future healthcare leaders are central components of what makes exceptional care possible, but they are now largely obsolete. To create the future of care, we must invest in physical infrastructure that takes into account the evolving needs of patients with serious or complex care needs, their families and healthcare staff.

Imagine a healthcare world where a patient’s hospital room is an integral part of their care team, where physical infrastructure is complemented by artificial intelligence and robotics operating in the background to provide added support for clinicians and nurses so they can spend more time with their patients. Bold. Forward. Unbound. brings to life this future state of care where a patient’s room sees, hears, anticipates and reacts to their needs alongside their care team to re-imagine the experience of healthcare.

Bold. Forward. Unbound. in Rochester

Mayo Clinic in Rochester

Bold. Forward. Unbound. in Rochester is our biggest, most ambitious and most forward-looking vision for healthcare physical infrastructure. Like the Plummer Building in 1928 and the circular unit in 1957, Bold. Forward. Unbound. in Rochester will serve as an inspiration for the future of healthcare.

At first glance, it may appear that we’re simply constructing a few new buildings in Rochester. But inside those buildings lies transformational change that will blur the lines across hospital, clinic and digital care to meet patients’ needs — wherever they are.

Flexible Spaces With People at the Center

Our new buildings, designed in collaboration with Foster + Partners and CannonDesign, are being built with a universal, flexible grid to allow the building to adapt to change over time. We will provide patients with personalized arrival experiences tailored to their specific healthcare needs, with spaces designed to transition patients intuitively among diagnostic imaging suites, to operating rooms, to patient rooms throughout their stay. Spaces will also adapt seamlessly to digital, outpatient, inpatient and post-hospital care needs as they arise, allowing the care team to personalize care for patients and their loved ones.

Our new spaces will include built-in resources to deliver next-generation care experiences. For example, we are designing spaces that integrate automation to streamline daily tasks, such as reminding hospitalized patients about their upcoming tests as well as incorporating predictive AI tools to help clinicians make early diagnoses. With these efforts, our patient rooms and other spaces truly enable better healthcare and become another member of the care team.

Of course, we also want our spaces to be warm and welcoming for patients, who often come to us at vulnerable times of their lives, and therefore we have created “neighborhoods” that will serve as “home” while they are receiving care. Neighborhoods bring familiarity to our spaces, conveniently locating essential services in close proximity to patients and care teams to minimize trips across campus and better support our collaborative model of care. Neighborhoods will also feature natural materials, sunlight, winter gardens and interconnected public spaces to create a calming atmosphere that supports a patient’s overall well-being.

Arizona. Bold. Forward: Building Synergies Between Research and Education

Each Mayo Clinic campus has unique needs based on the regions it serves, but all share a common mission to serve as a beacon of hope and healing to those in need. Mayo Clinic launched Arizona. Bold. Forward. to better serve the growing complex care needs of the Southwest, a project that not only doubled the campus size to accommodate more patients but is also transforming care delivery and research and education capabilities.

Like in Rochester, Arizona. Bold. Forward. is adding remote care platforms for chronic and acute care needs and advanced AI protocols to better predict and more reliably treat complex and serious illnesses.

Additionally, a new Integrated Education and Research Building will fuse medical education and research, bringing scientists side by side with learners to find new answers while simultaneously training future healthcare leaders. Within this new space, we are integrating technology to provide next-generation medical training, including organizing our multidisciplinary teams around common research focus areas and sharing critical technologies such as augmented and virtual reality training scenarios and 3D-model rendering for radiographic images and biological specimens. With the new building in close proximity to Discovery Oasis and the Arizona State University Health Futures Center, Mayo Clinic in Arizona’s campus will transform into a highly collaborative innovation hub focused on finding new cures and growing the workforce of tomorrow.

Mayo Clinic Integrated Education and Research Building

Mayo Clinic in Florida: Advancing cancer care, creating a healing environment

Bold. Forward. Unbound. in Florida is creating a smart campus through human-centered spaces that expand patient care capabilities, biomedical research and education, all connected through integrated technology.

With an added 750,000 square feet by 2026, Mayo Clinic in Florida’s campus will transform into a member of the patient’s care team. Patient rooms will be meticulously designed to promote healing, connection and adaptability, equipped with ambient clinical intelligence and wireless vitals monitoring to allow care teams to gather just-in-time clinical information with minimal disruptions. Technology will become nearly invisible to the patient, allowing care teams to maintain personal connections to their patients while having access to resources that continuously improve outcomes.

To further create a healing environment, our designs will increase sunlight in patient rooms by over 80%, and rooms will be equipped to react to patient preferences, such as voice commands to adjust room lighting or temperature. Behind the scenes, care teams will benefit from added automation to support clinical documentation, supply needs and fall-risk notifications.

As we look to better meet the needs of our patients with novel treatment options, a new integrated oncology building will give patients more access to cutting-edge cancer treatment options through proton beam therapy and North America’s first carbon ion therapy unit. Located near other hematology and oncology services, the new building will further integrate cancer care on the Florida campus to create a more seamless, coordinated care experience.

Mayo Clinic in Florida's Integrated Oncology Facility

Mayo Clinic Health System: Transforming Community Care

We must think innovatively about what the future of healthcare looks like for everyone, regardless of physical location. Community-based patients deserve access to timely, specialty care, delivered by compassionate care teams equipped with Category-of-One resources and technology. Expansions at our community-based facilities, Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse and Mankato, will transform local healthcare and set the standard for community health systems nationally through future-oriented spaces designed for convenience, safety and quality.

Within these new spaces, patients will have connected care experiences tailored to their unique needs, including virtual access to subspecialty clinicians at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, to get the answers they need without leaving their communities. Patients and staff also will feel more connected to care plans with the addition of smartboards in patient rooms, virtual nursing resources and digital technology to enhance workflows.

New Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse Hospital

A new 96-bed tower in La Crosse, Wisconsin, will bring an unparalleled care experience to community-based patients, integrating these new technologies alongside design enhancements aimed at elevating the overall experience for both patients and staff.

At Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, three new recently opened floors are modernizing the patient care environment through automation, noise-reducing architectural enhancements, larger spaces for patient care and staff support, and more. Both projects are bringing transformed environments required to best serve our community patients with consistent and connected care experiences that preserve human interaction while leveraging novel technologies that are advancing cures.

Harmonizing Physical and Digital for the Future of Care

Physical infrastructure and digital capabilities must work together to create the future of care. By successfully integrating the two, we can create a higher-quality, more sustainable healthcare system that will better serve everybody.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn. 

Healthcare Transformation
Capital Expansion, Healthcare Transformation
Capital Expansion