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RJE Introduces ‘The HIVE’

by: Jack Quigley
Built with the healthcare community in mind, RJE Business Interiors (RJE), Falkbuilt, and numerous local cohorts are partnering to create an immersive experience in downtown Indianapolis called The HIVE (Healthcare Interiors Visionary Experiences).

Meant to act as a conduit to generate creative engagement and inspire thinking, The HIVE offers problem solving through a healthcare lens. This is done via the inclusion of design, construction, furniture, and technology, with the focus on the current healthcare climate, activity, and challenges that the industry faces.

Engaging Healthcare Professionals
Denny Sponsel, CEO and Owner at RJE, said his position on the board of a large healthcare provider afforded him opportunities to talk directly with healthcare providers and learn about challenges affecting their industry.

“As a team, we started to talk about what the real movement is going forward in the space that we serve and work,” Sponsel said. “And the major upside is in healthcare, specifically premanufactured interior construction in healthcare.”

From labor shortages to financial burdens, Sponsel said problems facing the healthcare industry can be explored and addressed at The HIVE. Instead of creating just another showroom, RJE created The HIVE to act as an immersive studio for professionals working in healthcare.

“We want to provide an experience studio to help solve some of those problems and engage that community in a broader way,” Sponsel said. “The HIVE is meant to be an experience where people involved in healthcare – whether it's a provider, designer, architect, or other influencers – can come in and have an experience with healthcare, play with it, bring customers in, design around it, or do whatever they want to do in the space.”

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Sponsel said RJE has already seen early indicators of how the space could be used.

“We've had design firms asking, ‘Could we use your space for a day to bring a client in, or take our own staff to the space as we're designing, talking, and thinking healthcare?’ And the answer is yes, we want you to,” Sponsel said. “We want it to be a very engaged and activated space.”

Learning Through Immersion
Various modular scenarios are stationed throughout The HIVE to give visitors the opportunity to interact with specific layouts and tailored equipment as they wish.

“We're accustomed to looking at 2D drawings and understanding,” said Kellie Seabrooks, Vice President of Strategic Innovation and Customer Engagement at RJE. “But for end users or people in different positions, it can be really hard to visualize things.”

Premanufactured interior solutions are featured on one side of The HIVE to show how Falkbuilt systems can be used to create a shell of a space. Visitors can interact with these vignette wall systems to familiarize themselves with the latest lighting, surface, and technology solutions in healthcare design.

From check-in to evaluation, Kristin Blitch, Director of Marketing at RJE said each scenario inside the HIVE tells a different story along the patient’s journey, giving visitors a true sense of the patient’s experience inside the medical built environment.

“From a branding or user experience perspective, it's simple things like, ‘What do red outlets mean versus white?’,” Seabrooks said. “Those are the kinds of things where we're like, ‘Let's talk about it. Let's swap them out and figure out what that needs to look like.’”

Creative furniture solutions like surround lounge seating are scattered throughout The HIVE to give healthcare professionals opportunities to interact with and choose elements that might add comfort to their day-to-day routines.

“We're just trying to give some of the elements that will start to get creative juices flowing where needed,” Seabrooks said.

Building for Flexibility
As healthcare continues its rapid growth in the built environment post-pandemic, providers today are faced with tough decisions as projected construction timelines often lag behind ideal completion dates.

“One of the challenges we have in healthcare is that today, we’ll need X amount of patient rooms or X amount of exam rooms. But in two years, we may need triple that,” Seabrooks said. “To use the pandemic as an example, they had to ramp up. But the timeframe in which to build walls and ceilings and HVAC – that ‘go to market’ – is a very long timeframe. And all those trades have to come together.”

Custom prefabricated solutions inside The HIVE allow developers to plug these pieces together in a setting that can be quickly disassembled and rebuilt in a fraction of the time it takes with standard construction practices.

“If we had to clear out an entire floor of a medical office building and change it into something else, you're talking about six to eight weeks versus 10 months,” Seabrooks said.

Furthering the company’s dedication to its clients, RJE is not manufacturer-specific, allowing the company to introduce a wide array of solutions to The HIVE.

“We want it to be a very engaged and activated space. It's not a sales rep bringing people in and saying, ‘Let us tell you about this table and this recliner.’ That is not the goal,” Sponsel said. “We have partners and other manufacturers because we want to be a total solution and help determine the best solution for a client.”

More than just a communal resource for designers, The HIVE is envisioned as a setting that encourages knowledge transfer and advocacy for the patient, user, and staff experience. Sponsel said RJE intends to let users decide how the space will operate.

“If AIA were to ask, ‘Do you mind if we have a meeting over there?’ Sure. If IU Health were to say, ‘We would like to do a one-day retreat with some nursing leadership.’ Sure. If we had someone say, ‘We've got a project cooking and we'd like to use your space to do some planning around that.’ Sure,” Sponsel said. “It's any and all with healthcare. It’s to stir thought, give a creative space, and be engaging.”

Modular scenarios and custom furniture inside The HIVE can be quickly cleared out to make room for training-style tables and boardroom setups. Technology integrated throughout the space also gives visitors the chance to share content on monitors across the building, creating the ideal setting for group meetings.

“The beauty of this space is that we can clear everything out and make it something completely different,” Seabrooks said.

The HIVE hopes to bring together healthcare leadership, architects, designers, subject matter experts, and community members in a position to impact the future of healthcare design, in areas such as patient readiness, thought leadership, and continuous education.

“We would like for people, if nothing else, to be inspired, but also to recognize us as someone contributing to their field of excellence,” Sponsel said. “Whether they're a provider, designer, etc., we want people to recognize that we're trying to improve their possibilities.”

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