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January 25, 2021

Haskell Adapts to Meet the Healthcare Industry’s Unique Needs

Vast and varied expertise and a flexible approach to serving clients create value and build longstanding relationships.

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Having the ability to think holistically about a project always has served Haskell well, even if the result of that thought process has led down some unorthodox paths. Nowhere is this more true than in its healthcare practice, where Haskell has embraced flexibility and adaptability to better serve its clients. 

“Rather than using a hammer for every nail we see, it’s important for us to think about the entire approach and ask if we could maybe use a staple instead of a nail,” said Michelle Mader, President of Catalyst, a Haskell Company. “We’ve been very good with clients over the years looking at things through a perspective that not only serves the bricks-and-mortar world but also provides creative solutions that are right for the client.”  

In an industry that can be classified as traditional, intentional and measured in its approach to facility planning and construction, Haskell has deployed a blend of innovation and experience to craft solutions that meet clients where they are.  

While the company prides itself on an integrated design-build approach to project delivery across several industries, it has taken a slightly different approach to support the needs of its healthcare clients. 

It all begins with understanding what they need. 

Meeting clients where they are 

Many large healthcare systems have ample in-house resources to manage procurement, planning and construction. So, while Haskell can provide its design-build approach, it also has cultivated three distinct areas of service offerings that best meet the healthcare market’s unique demands 

In 2014, Haskell acquired FreemanWhite, an acclaimed healthcare design firm with a history dating back more than 100 years, and set it up as a subsidiary to provide a deep level of expertise and experience to clients seeking design and planning support. Just one year later, Haskell spun off Catalyst from FreemanWhite, giving the division a strategic counsel and operational consulting practice focused on empowering healthcare providers. 

The two work  independently or in concert with Haskell Healthcare Construction, which possesses a deep well of industry expertise building complex medical facilities. This three-pronged approach enables Haskell Healthcare to offer a diverse collection of practical solutions. 

“For us, it really depends on how our clients want their services,” said Mark Allnutt, Division Leader of Healthcare at Haskell. “We have the ability to go to market in various ways, including as an integrated team or as standalone ones that provide the needed services for our clients.” 

This flexibility not only satisfies a client’s immediate need, but it also creates opportunities for Haskell to add value to specific projects strategically. For instance, a consulting project with a particular client through Catalyst can form relationships that benefit future design or construction work. 

Given the importance of flexibility in this environment, Chris Morales, President of FreemanWhite and Vice President of Haskell Healthcare, said the company has embraced three  models for project delivery in the healthcare space. 

The first, design-bid-build, adheres to the traditional approach favored by many larger healthcare systems. This model employs one of Haskell’s service offerings overseeing a portion of a project.  

The second is the design-build model, in which Haskell provides planning, design and construction services in an integrated model from concept through project delivery. 

And the third, design-and-build, blends Haskell’s design-build success with the traditional model, enabling the company to honor individual contracts for various portions of a project and to provide the client with the added value of a more integrated approach. 

“With design-and-build, there are opportunities where our services might be procured separately, but we’re able to be successful in leveraging the full continuum of our service offerings,” Morales said. “That leads to an opportunity where we may provide the client  with an enhanced level of service consistent with their unique needs, circumstances, and business objectives.” 

A unique perspective 

This breadth of services, coupled with a deep well of knowledge, gives Haskell Healthcare a unique advantage in a crowded marketplace. The acquisition of FreemanWhite as well as the investment to launch and grow Catalyst have positioned the company as an experienced, trusted advisor for its clients. 

Morales said this level of expertise, encompassing more than 100 professionals featuring varied and diverse skill sets, helps Haskell stand out from the crowd. 

“The largest differentiator is that we have the capability to address all levels of service along the continuum of planning and construction for a particular client,” Morales said. “Most clients in their project planning and procurement process will have very clear procurement objectives. Depending on where they are, they may select services ranging from strategy through full implementation.” 

Haskell’s ability to bring a diverse set of perspectives, knowledge and expertise to bear across the client journey also enables it to provide added value. With a client base that stretches across the country, it can bring best practices to the table, sharing meaningful experiences from a project on the West Coast to enhance one in South Florida. 

As such, Haskell stays ahead of the curve throughout the gradual evolution of the broader American healthcare market as it begins to tilt gradually toward adopting more integrated approaches to project delivery. This means factors such as speed to market, cost savings and operational efficiencies are becoming increasingly important for clients.  

“We have the greatest opportunity as client advisors and advocates,” Morales said. “The one thing Haskell is very supportive of is the notion that we don’t bring a one-size-fits-all solution to any particular client. Haskell is happy to engage with a client where that client’s needs are and where we can serve them and provide that advisory capability.” 

For example, Allnutt cited a renovation project for Labor, Delivery and Recovery rooms for Baptist Health in Jacksonville, Florida. The project initially was slated for completion in October, but the client communicated a need for the facility to be finished sooner. Despite a two-week shutdown because of COVID-19, the Haskell team was able to not only meet the accelerated timeline but finish a full two weeks ahead of schedule. 

Having the ability to flex up its capacity to serve and deliver work for projects is crucial, particularly given the market’s ongoing evolution. 

Understanding what comes next 

Few industries were affected more significantly by the pandemic than healthcare. In the early days of the outbreak in the U.S., most systems halted elective procedures and nonessential services, creating revenue shortfalls. 

Recognizing the challenges, Haskell focused on anticipating what would come next. 

For instance, healthcare providers might have limited control over revenues, but they do have control over expenses and can consider solutions to maximize existing opportunities. 

As such, Mader said, it will be necessary for healthcare systems to seek operational efficiencies. Strategic planning is key to managing potential disruptions, such as a decrease in patient volume or an exploding demand for telemedicine, and taking advantage of opportunities, such as leveraging technology in the patient experience or using data collection and analysis to identify expense savings. 

“If we can show you how to put more people through the same physical space without having to build an additional space, that’s a win-win,” Mader said. “If we can help these healthcare providers realize more revenue and let them see more patients in a way where they don’t have to pay more money to do it, that’s huge.” 

That isn’t to say the industry won’t need more bricks-and-mortar projects. But these capital investments likely will come in the form of intricate, specialty care facilities that serve necessary in-patient procedures and life-saving interventions. 

That’s where the Haskell is positioned well by its vast and varied experience. 

“Building a medical office building is not the same thing as building a critical-care tower, and Haskell is not a medical office building developer,” Morales said. “We have the planning, design, engineering and construction resources to do the most complex healthcare expansions, and you can see that in projects that we’re engaged in now.” 

What won’t change will be the industry’s commitment to bettering its patients’ lives, and the leaders of Haskell’s healthcare practice understand the gravity of that mission. 

“Everything we do has meaning,” Allnutt said. “It’s not building a condo, and it’s not building a warehouse or a factory. We are working on a place that literally changes people’s lives children are born, and people survive cancer. It’s rewarding work that I’m proud of.” 

Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 1,800 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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