Lessons From Google and Apple: Creating an Open Workplace in an Academic Medical Department to Foster Innovation and Collaboration

Ricciotti, Hope A. MD; Armstrong, Walter MRP; Yaari, Gabriel MArch; Campion, Suzanne; Pollard, Mary MPH; Golen, Toni H. MD

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000364
Innovation Reports
Abstract

Problem: An expanding obstetrics–gynecology department at an academic medical center was faced with too little physical space to accommodate its staff, including trainees, attending physicians, researchers, scientists, administrative leadership, nurses, physician assistants, and scheduling/phone staff. Staff also felt that the current use of space was not ideal for collaboration and innovation.

Approach: In 2011, the department collected data on space use, using a neutral surveyor and a standardized data collection tool. Using these data, architects and facilities managers met with the department to develop a floor plan proposal for a new use of the space. Site visits, departmental meetings, literature reviews, and space mock-ups complemented the decision process. The final architectural plan was developed using an iterative process that included all disciplines within the department.

Outcomes: The redesigned workspace accommodates more staff in a modernized, open, egalitarian setup. The authors’ informal observations suggest that the physical proximity created by the new workspace has facilitated timely and civil cross-discipline communication and improvements in team-oriented behavior, both of which are important contributors to safe patient care.

Next Steps: This innovation is generalizable and may lead other academic departments to make similar changes. In the future, the authors plan to measure the use of the space and to relate that to outcomes, including clinical (coordination of care/patient satisfaction), administrative (absenteeism/attrition), research (grant volume), and efficiency and cost measures.

Author Information

Dr. Ricciotti is chair and residency program director, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr. Armstrong is senior vice president for capital facilities and engineering, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr. Yaari is a design architect specializing in science facilities and large-scale academic and health care buildings, Boston, Massachusetts.

Ms. Campion is co-chief administrative officer, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.

Ms. Pollard is co-chief administrative officer, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Golen is vice chair for quality, safety, and performance improvement, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Funding/Support: This renovation project was funded by the capital budget of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Ricciotti, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kirstein 3, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Ave., Boston, MA 02215; telephone: (617) 667-2286; e-mail: hricciot@bidmc.harvard.edu.

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges