Remote Medicine, Remote PM

Posted on July 12, 2010

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One of the drawbacks to pursuing healthcare work outside your immediate geographic area is that many times there is a bias against selecting out-of-towners because of a perceived lack of service. I hope as telemedicine and virtual service delivery catch on in healthcare, healthcare facilities will understand projects can be done excellently, even exceptionally, at a distance. The most important decision is choosing the most qualified team, even if that team is ‘not from these parts.’

For some it is overcoming perception. Many clients want to know for piece of mind, that their architect, engineer or contractor is local so that they can have them present in a matter of minutes. At least with projects I have worked on in my ten plus years, thankfully no project has had an ‘I need you over here here right now’ concern.

These days, with everyone’s busy schedules even local A/E/C staff travel frequently, so a call or an email might be the quickest guaranteed immediate response.  Yet it might take a local professional a couple hours to get to the project site. In that same time frame, a project architect can cover 500-600 miles by plane.

Of course, some items are better executed in person, like programming and user meetings, design charettes, code and AHJ meetings, 911 CA issues, punch lists and the rare hand-holding emergency. I do not know anyone who attempts to do these activities from a distance.

On the other hand, most of the design and construction process is easily executed remotely:  schematic and design development, product research and specifications, design documentation and most CA (with a mutually-agreed upon visit schedule).  Any milestone event would require face-to-face reviews and discussion.

With technologies and services like Multivista project documentation service, video, email, teleconferences, electronic submittals, ftp sites, and the like distances are minimized. This frees clients up to select the absolute best team available, regardless of where their company happens to be based. Owners have been cherry-picking their A/E/C teams from all over the world for over 100 years.

Now that medicine—an essential service that requires a give-and-take process to achieve proper diagnosis and treatment—is moving virtual, or at least to more progressive delivery methods, healthcare facilities can accept the analogy that design and construction from a non-neighborhood team are not a substandard product.

As a patient, I might not want a virtual visit over a live visit all the time, but if it is more convenient for me, saves me money and accomplishes its task the same as a traditional visit to the doc, I am all for it when it is appropriate. Professional services like design, engineering and building construction should be no different.

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