Henderson’s Insights from 2023 Annual Healthcare Design & Construction Symposium

As a longtime sponsor of the Vanderbilt School of Engineering’s Annual Health Care Design & Construction Symposium, Henderson Engineers proudly participated in the 17th edition of the conference on August 9-10. Representing Team Henderson were Russ Carter, health sector inpatient practice director, Mark Chrisman, health sector executive, and Greg Johnson, business development director. The theme of this year’s event was “pivoting towards a sustainable future: SEE (social, environmental, economic)” with all the presentations and forums geared towards these important topics:


To address the social aspect, several presentations and discussions were geared around staffing and nursing, specifically emphasizing how the workforce plays an important role in the healing process.  Many innovative discussions centered around creating new ways to get more students into nursing schools, faster job training, and accelerated educational programs (essentially scalability). Additional focus was on ways the C-suite and designers can help support nursing staff in addressing current hot button needs including mental health, flexibility, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Of the nearly two million current open healthcare positions nationally; one million are nurses whereas only 100,000 nursing students graduate every year. This gap is insurmountable. Healthcare systems are focusing on empowering nurses to be more efficient so they can operate at the “top of their license.” They are generally looking to technology to accomplish this through AI patient onboarding and utilizing virtual technology to see more patients.


The environmental aspect of the event centered around sustainability and decarbonization. The Department of Health and Human Services  (HHS) Climate Pledge was discussed at length, including a focus on education for the entire healthcare workforce as each health system works to figure out how to meet and financially support HHS’ goals. Deeper discussions were focused on the “how,” as well as working with industry partners and utility companies to find quicker and more impactful ways to increase change. Many health systems are utilizing grants, rebates, and other opportunities tied to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).


The economic discussion included some key conversations around specific health systems but also more broadly around the current fiscal climate of healthcare in the United States. This included the financial struggles of rural health as they continue to have greater impacts on suburban and urban healthcare facilities as well as on local economies and communities. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated some of the issues that existed financially. While supply chain hurdles and cost escalation have appeared to somewhat steady, they remain major drivers in deciding on project scope and timelines.

There is also an ongoing push to decentralize healthcare into the communities due to rising costs of providing care. This, along with a renewed focus on client experience, continues to push the industry to look at innovative ways to get care closer to home for rural residents.

Henderson Knows Health

In healthcare, strong infrastructure is critical. We’re focused on solutions that make healthcare facilities reliable, from initial infrastructure to implementing improvements in facilities that can’t shut down. We understand that each facility, campus, and project requires a unique approach. With that great responsibility comes the need to build solutions for patient safety, complex equipment, facility infrastructure, and resident comfort. The healthcare industry is growing and changing quickly. Our experts are on the frontlines helping healthcare providers navigate new technology, complicated code requirements, and the emergence of neighborhood medtail clinics – all while taking patient care and safety as seriously as our clients do.

Written By

Health Sector Executive


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