Innovate September 2017

Efficient and Progressive Medical Care in Gainesville

Written By: Chris Eversole

The hybrid operating rooms at the new UF Health hospitals include imaging equipment that enhances surgeons’ view of patient’s condition and the results of surgery.

Well-established businesses and organizations in Greater Gainesville are constantly looking for ways to optimize their services, especially when launching major new projects.

Two such organizations have approached new projects seeking to better meet the needs of their customers.

The two projects brought staff, customers and consultants together to collaborate in unique ways.

The projects are:

  • In building the University of Florida Health Heart & Vascular and Neuromedicine hospitals, the health care system’s staff and consultants worked together to create “the best possible patient experience.”
  • Exactech, a company that manufacturers hip, knee and shoulder implants and related products, also engaged interdisciplinary teams while planning for a building expansion at its northwest Gainesville campus. Together, the Exactech employees and outside consultants created a master plan that will serve as a vision for the next 15 years.

The new hospitals illustrate the teamwork throughout UF Health, said Dr. Thomas Beaver, the chief of UF Health’s division of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery in the College of Medicine’s Department of Surgery.

Beaver credited the leadership of Dr. David S. Guzick, UF’s senior vice president for health affairs and president of UF Health; Dr. Michael L. Good, dean of UF’s College of Medicine; and Ed Jimenez, chief executive officer at UF Health Shands, for creating a collaborative culture.

“I’m excited about having one of the best hospitals anywhere in the world based on collaboration that’s patient-focused,” Beaver said.

Similarly, Exactech’s new two-story addition, which will begin construction this fall, is designed to support the company’s teamwork value and to enhance patient care and customer care, said co-founder Betty Petty.

“We wanted to capture the ‘Exactech Experience’ — the camaraderie that is part of our culture,” she said. “We’re customer-focused and people-focused in a flat organization in which everyone is accessible.”

To keep pace with its rapid growth over decades, the company had spread employees and operations across eight buildings on its current corporate campus.

“Through this building expansion, we can bring more people back together under one roof. The design will provide manufacturing efficiencies as products move through our production process, and it also will provide a wide variety of spaces that inspire collaboration. Teamwork fuels innovation here, and the building is designed around that.”


“Someone could walk in with seizures, and, after a quick operation, walk out seizure-free. This is the vision for how we believe we should practice medicine.”
— Dr. Michael Okun

Best Possible Patient Experience

Designing the new neuromedicine hospital allowed everyone involved to start with a clean slate, said Dr. Michael Okun, chair of the Department of Neurology in UF’s College of Medicine.

The goal: Move patients through their medical care smoothly and effectively.

“We don’t ever want to ping-pong patients through a complex system,” he said. “We worked in teams to see the patient’s point of view and to understand what would be the most efficient way to accomplish the best possible patient experience.”

The work included the design of hallways and the positioning of medical devices, including new state-of-the-art imaging equipment. “We needed to be efficient in the small stuff like drawing blood but also thoughtful in co-locating neurologists and neurosurgeons all under one roof,” Okun said.

Multiple teams made up of physicians, nurses, rehabilitation specialists, facilities planners, architects and technical engineers who specialize in patient flow worked together.

“We had lots of i’s to dot and t’s to cross,” Okun said. “It was a labor of love that involved many after-hours meetings.”

He uses a patient with epilepsy as an example.

“It’s possible that a patient will walk into our clinic, see a neurologist and neurosurgeon, be directed to the new state-of-the-art physiology laboratory, obtain necessary imaging, be tested by our neuropsychologists and be admitted for surgery – all in one day,” Okun said.

“Someone could walk in with seizures, and, after a quick operation, walk out seizure-free. This is the vision for how we believe we should practice medicine.”

When it opens this December, the streamlined hospital will serve patients well, he explained: “The best thing for the patient is literally to have lots of people talking behind his or her back — coming up with the best outcome for you.”

The 15 operating rooms in the new hospital will be accompanied by two MRI machines, which will enable surgeons to see MRI results — often in real time — to indicate whether they have removed all of a tumor or fixed an abnormality that may prevent a stroke, he said.

The operating rooms will serve cardiac and thoracic surgeons as well as neurosurgeons. While planning the new hospitals, staff visited other leading-edge medical centers to understand their best practices, Beaver said.

Those hospitals included Brigham & Williams in Boston, Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles and the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor.

The new, streamlined experience will be especially important for people who travel long distances to UF Health, Beaver said.

“We’re a referral hospital, with many of our patients coming from Melbourne, Pensacola, Tallahassee, Tampa, Fort Myers, Jacksonville and Orlando, as well as from out of state,” he said.

“In our combined clinic, someone with an aortic aneurysm can see a cardiologist and a thoracic surgeon, then have a CT scan and an echocardiogram on the same day and schedule a minimally invasive valve procedure.”

Exactech’s planned new headquarter will greatly enhance efficiency, and it will have interior windows showing the manufacturing process.

Until the new hospital opens, the same patient will sometimes go to a multidisciplinary clinic at UF Health Springhill on Northwest 39th Avenue for a CT scan, then drive back to UF Health Shands Hospital for the other procedures that are spread throughout the UF Health complex.

The new hospital will also have family waiting rooms — featuring chairs that are comfortable for sleeping — so patients can have more contact with their loved ones.

“The more the patients have a sense of well-being, the faster they will heal,” Beaver said.

Exactech Excels                                                

Exactech has grown steadily since its founding in 1985, with an extremely high growth curve in the past decade.

Petty led a team of consultants and staff that has worked over the past year on phase one of the master plan for the company’s campus in Gainesville’s Northwest Industrial Park. The first buildings in phase one are a parking garage and a two-story, 67,000 square-foot structure with full glass exterior walls and flexible work spaces throughout.

The building will host visiting surgeons — who come from across the United States as well as from Europe, South America and Asia — for training in the company’s skills lab and learning about Exactech’s latest innovations, Petty said.

“The building will showcase our manufacturing operations, which will be located in its heart and visible to guests” Petty said. “We will provide a dynamic experience for customers, who sometimes come in groups of 20, 30 or 40.”

Exactech had a head start on the planning process because of its collaborative culture and its long-term relationship with local design and construction firms, Petty said.

“We invited employees from every department that will be working in the new areas to work directly with the architects and designers as we developed our plan,” she said.

The architect incorporated a work café and numerous “collision spaces” in the building for employees to hold impromptu meetings.

“In our current space, I notice that people often pause to talk with one another,” Petty said. “The new building will encourage even more of this type of collaboration.

“The needed expansion will provide an optimal environment for us to live our values of teamwork and innovation and to live our mobility mission as we move to different areas throughout the day for different types of work. It also will enable us to offer a warm and welcoming environment to guests.”

“Through this building expansion, we can bring more people back together under one roof. Teamwork fuels innovation here, and the building is designed around that.” — Betty Petty           


CHRIS EVERSOLE has been a keen observer of business, government and culture in the Greater Gainesville Area while living here over the past two decades. His experience includes work with the University of Florida and Alachua County Government. He also has been a journalist and public relations professional in the Tampa Bay and Sarasota-Bradenton areas, as well as in Michigan, Ohio and New York.

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