Rick Rome: We Help Create Buildings that Perform More Efficiently
Executive Vice President at WSP in the USA
What is the next big thing in healthcare in the US?
There are two big trends in the market. The first is merger mania. We’re seeing big healthcare system providers acquiring other players and expanding their reach. These companies are actively looking for opportunities in countries where healthcare markets are under-developed and the standard of care needs to be upgraded. Also, specialty brands such as Mayo, Cleveland Clinic and MD Anderson will continue to take their high standard of care around the world and mate it with other systems to improve the healthcare model.
The second big trend is the provision of healthcare from a single ICT platform. At the moment, healthcare data is scattered over a number of different and incompatible IT systems. Over time, we’re moving to a single ICT platform that has the capacity to give all the information a care provider needs about a patient be it case notes or diagnostic data.
What is driving change in the US healthcare market?
Quite simply, increasing cost is driving change in the market. More and more people are joining the healthcare system as the population grows and ages, so we need to look for efficiencies. This is where intelligent and creative design comes in. We can help create buildings that perform more efficiently allowing more money to be focused on care giving.
What are your most memorable projects, and why?
Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Arizona (completed in 2011), stands out in my memory, Firstly, because the scheme delivered 950,000 square feet of much needed quality hospital space to children.
Secondly, the hospital was built in a formerly disadvantaged area of the city that had seen little investment in any social or physical infrastructure. The new hospital injected renewed life into the area acting as a regeneration scheme and bringing jobs to the locality as well as new talent. Moreover, the scheme was largely delivered post credit crunch (2008), yet the investment went ahead. Our team is proud of being able to contribute to projects that achieve success on so many levels.
As someone who works on schemes around the world, what strikes you as a particular feature of the US health market?
The US has stringent requirements in the area of infection control. For example, here in the US it is not standard practice to open hospital patient room windows. The reason being that pressure relationships can be compromised allowing/causing infected air from one patient area to be moved to another. Other countries, including the UK, do not have this restriction, though that’s not to say that infection control elsewhere is less of a priority – there’s just a different approach.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
I own a collection of 15 vintage cars, and enjoy driving and maintaining them. I go to rallies and other classic car events. Spending time with my grandson is another of life’s pleasures.
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
I would be Quicksilver from the X-men movies. Then I would have the ability to travel super-fast. I could get so much more done in a day!
If you could be a piece of hospital equipment, what would you be?
A proton beam. It’s a highly precise and fast tool. It’s also one of the best tools we have to date for tackling cancer, which can be such a devastating disease.
A ‘big picture’ thinker, Rick is driven by the conviction that good healthcare design makes a positive impact on local communities that continues well beyond a building’s boundary.
It was Rick’s desire to make a difference to people, along with astute business acumen, that led him to create (with two partners) a specialized engineering consultancy firm in 1985. Called ccrd, the practice focused from the outset on healthcare design, rapidly becoming a leading player in a niche area where few other companies could claim expertise.
Fast forward almost 30 years and ccrd had grown to a 225 strong staff based in nine offices across the US. When, in 2014, the opportunity arose for ccrd to join with WSP, Rick and the ccrd senior management team elected to move forward in the venture.
For Rick, the key benefit to the merger is the global reach of WSP. Ccrd’s talent and experience is now available to markets across the world and Rick remains as enthusiastic as ever about the multiple benefits of well-considered healthcare provision.
With a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Kansas, Rick holds professional engineering registrations in 47 states in the USA.