The Advisory Board: DesignGroup’s Direct Connection to Healthcare Leaders

DesignGroup has been a member of the Advisory Board, a national thinktank and leading provider of comprehensive performance improvement services for healthcare institutions, for over a decade. Each year we host a Future of Healthcare event for our clients, bringing in leading expertise from the Advisory Board (as well as our own big thinkers) to share their thoughts. These meetings are a powerful way to connect with healthcare leaders and discuss how design can help them achieve their mission.


This year, we held two events – one in Columbus, the other in Pittsburgh. Here are wrap ups and key takeaways from each.



The Advisory Board event held in Columbus focused on the general state of healthcare in the United States. DesignGroup hosted Ford Koles from the Advisory Board, their leading speaker and economist for the State of the Industry.

Columbus Advisory Board Company Event - Kristina Bertocchi
DesignGroup's Kristina Bertocchi presenting on how architecture plays a role in the stigma of Substance Use Disorder Care


DesignGroup staff also contributed talks, including:

  • Producing the Right Design Idea: It's All About Process, by Char Hawkins, Senior Interior Designer
  • Challenging the Architecture of Stigma: Visibility of Substance Use Disorder Care Centers, by Kristina Bertocchi, Project Architect
  • School Based Health Clinic: Whole Child Wellness, by Jocelyn Krosky, Project Manager
  • The Digital Front Door, by Amy Nuzum, Project Manager, and Chris Haedt, Columbus Healthcare Practice Group Leader
Columbus Advisory Board Company Event - Chris Haedt & Amy Nuzum
Chris Haedt and Amy Nuzum discuss Healthcare's Digital Front Door


Key takeaways:

  • Don't over correct for the now and hinder your future. Since the start of the pandemic, long-standing issues in the healthcare industry came to a breaking point. Healthcare institutions have had to make hard decisions to respond to immediate challenges. Yet they need to be mindful that long-term trends remain, and must make sure they aren't over investing in areas that demand short-term solutions.
  • Virtual care needs a streamlined front door. While virtual visits have fallen back to their pre-pandemic volumes (except for behavioral health visits), systems have an advantage to beef up their technology and how they interact with patients beyond just the care visit. Multi-channel approaches can leave consumers feeling frustrated, and with the rise of healthcare disrupters like Amazon and their seamless integration with consumers' lives, healthcare institutions and insurers need to take steps toward a more comprehensive digital offering for their patients.
  • Architecture must consider healthcare stigmas. A positive trend coming out of the pandemic is the increased focus on behavioral health and substance abuse. While the healthcare industry and the public are working to destigmatize care, there is a lot that architecture can do to help minimize stigma as well. Are buildings front and center, not hidden away? Are they bright and welcoming environments? Are they on an equal footing to other care being delivered?



DesignGroup hosted Yemi Zewdu Yimer from the Advisory Board, who brought expertise in cardiovascular (CV) programs, structural heart, ambulatory network strategy, and health equity. In this virtual discussion, we provided an overview of the key market forces impacting the cardiovascular landscape, providers, and patient care. We examined imminent decision points with the power to shape the future of the cardiovascular service line as we emerge from the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. And we discussed implications for the CV service line strategy and stakeholders across the industry.

Pittsburgh Advisory Board Company Event - Tom Chidlow Introduces Event
Tom Chidlow, DesignGroup Managing Principal, introduces the Advisory Board Presentation


DesignGroup staff contributed:

  • Rooms with Heart: Designing the Cardiovascular Patient Room, by Chris Haedt, Columbus Healthcare Practice Group Leader
  • Establishing a Sub-Brand Within a Brand, by Nicole DeFazio, Interior Designer


Key takeaways:

  • There is a shift to the ambulatory setting. There are various factors leading cardiovascular volume growth. A shift to the ambulatory setting and challenges associated to this change in our region will lead to regulatory changes.
  • There are lasting ripple effects of the pandemic on CV care. Including demand/supply imbalance, care delivery shifts and service prioritization, and addressing the demands on a shrinking staff base.
  • AI will impact the CV setting. There are opportunities to leveraging automation to effectively improve staff efficiency, help employees value their place of work, and advance system goals.
  • Cardiac patients have their own set of unique needs that should be considered. This was highlighted through various aspects such as the growth of an ambulatory cardiac network, right-sizing of the procedural and patient care spaces, and innovative technologies like holographic imagery, augmented in-room reality, and alternative care approaches that have the potential to revolutionize cardiac patient care.
  • It is important to create sub-brands within a larger healthcare system. The significance of establishing micro sub-brands within a larger healthcare system is to ensure seamless integration of service lines while preserving their unique identities, showcasing real project examples that illustrated how interior concepts can be utilized to create a cohesive patient experience encompassing the welcoming sequence, intuitive wayfinding themes, and the integration of key interior moments for brief respite and positive interaction with the built environment.


About Our Special Guests

Ford Koles, Jr.
Bradford (Ford) Koles, Jr. is one of Advisory Board’s preeminent thought leaders in the area of health system economics and strategy, and is the keynote speaker at the annual meetings for Advisory Board’s strategy membership. Ford is a healthcare economist by training and has participated in every major Advisory Board research initiative since 1992. He is well-versed in health care history and the many reform initiatives we have lived through in the past three decades: coverage expansion; vertical integration and physician partnership models; managed care and payer contracting; horizontal integration and system economies of scale; and quality-based payment. Prior to joining Advisory Board, he was a management consultant for the Hay Group and Ernst & Young. Ford received his BA from Kenyon College, and his MA in Economics from John Hopkins University.


Yemi Zewdu Yimer
Yemi Zewdu Yimer is a researcher and presenter of cardiovascular research, bringing content to health systems and life science organizations across the country. During her tenure at Advisory Board, she’s developed an expertise in cardiovascular program development and service line strategy and she is an expert at synthesizing meaningful takeaways using Advisory Board's wealth of tools and resources. She graduated from William & Mary with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Public Health, and she has a passion for promoting patient-centric and data-driven care.



Next Steps

In all, the half-day events provided insights and information that keep DesignGroup on the forefront of healthcare facility design. We’re proud to be an active member of an organization focused on the state of the industry and its future.

To learn more about our healthcare capabilities, or to dive deeper into any of the topics we covered in the Advisory Board events, please contact Jennifer Horvath at or 614-255-2265.