Planning continues for Innovation Design Unit

Before long, some of the first patients will arrive in the Innovation Design Unit. Work constantly is happening to ensure it’s ready to launch sometime next year.

“We are one year into a three-year planning and construction process, and energy continues to build,” said Nebraska Medicine Chief Nursing Officer Sue Nuss, PhD, who serves as the executive sponsor of the project. “It’s been exciting to join the core leadership team for the Innovation Design Unit. Hundreds of colleagues, physicians and operational leaders have come together to help reimagine the future of health care.”

The Innovation Design Unit will be located on level six of University Tower (previously 6 West UT). It will be an active patient care environment meant to design, test and validate new models of care, innovative technology and facility design. Learnings from the unit will be used not only to transform care at our existing facilities but also as a basis for Project NExT and even for health care systems across the country and the world.

In the first phase of planning, which concluded late last summer, the mission of the unit was developed with the help of more than 850 participants across UNMC and Nebraska Medicine. This included clinicians, leaders, researchers and faculty who took surveys, participated in workshops, gave interviews and attended open office hours. Together, they outlined the impact of the unit, what the experience might be like for patients, loved ones, care teams and learners and how technology and innovation will be incorporated and explored.

Since then, progress has been made in the physical design phase, as the med center partners with a collaboration of architects, designers, and experts from across the community, which is referred to as Studio NExT.

“We’ve really had an eye toward flexibility,” said Jen Bartholomew, vice president of facilities for Nebraska Medicine and associate vice chancellor of facilities for UNMC. “We’re thinking not only how the environment can be changed to fit our needs in years to come, but what if it needs to be changed in a week?”

Chad Vokoun, MD, said quiet and calm are a focus too.

“The word ‘Zen’ came out of some of our design work,” said Dr. Vokoun, who serves as the division chief of hospital medicine for Nebraska Medicine. “It got kind of a chuckle at first, but it’s a heck of a goal if you think about it, for our patients, their families and our providers.”

Pictured is a rendering of the Innovation Design Unit and its floor plan below. All images in this article are renderings only and are not final designs.

Three workstreams are currently underway, with members zeroing in on experience, technology and innovation. Additional workstreams will launch as the project continues. Upcoming decisions range from determining the initial scope for the unit when it opens to road mapping a strategy for the future.

“We’re really putting an emphasis on the ‘innovation’ part of the Innovation Design Unit,” said Kara Tomlinson. “It’s not just one of our values. We’re questioning our assumptions and looking for new ways to care for our patients. We are also exploring partnerships with health care technology leaders, who also see the value in having a unit that is dedicated to finding out what will work and how to continuously improve.”

Tomlinson recently started as the executive director of system care delivery and innovation. She’s working alongside Lynn Borstelmann, who will retire at the end of June. Other core leadership team members include Dr. Vokoun, Theresa Franco, Bartholomew, Bryce Brackle, Scott Raymond, Paul Baltes and Michael Ash, MD. In addition to the core leadership team and design experts from across the community, dozens of colleagues, physicians and faculty from Nebraska Medicine and UNMC, including the Global Center for Health Security, will serve as workstream participants throughout the project.

1 comment

  1. Robin Jaeckel says:

    This would be the ideal project to use design thinking process.

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