Oak Street Health is reinventing patient-centered care for those who need it most.
In just five years, the Philadelphia-based architecture firm CosciaMoos has leveraged their industry-leading expertise to help the healthcare provider build more than 200 clinics in communities across the country.
Oak Street Health was founded on the belief that everyone deserves great healthcare. Their mission is to provide affordable and accessible primary care to the people and the communities that need it most, but are statistically the least likely to get it: moderate-to-low-income adults over the age of 65.
They opened their first clinic in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood in 2013, bringing concierge-level service to Medicare and Medicaid recipients. The model proved a success and more local clinics soon followed. As they began their nation-wide expansion, Oak Street Health (OSH) selected CosciaMoos to design their first three Philadelphia locations. They appreciated the firm’s enthusiasm for improving health and wellness in their own community, and valued their past experience working on rollouts with national brands like Starbucks and DaVita.
Designing a Clinic that’s not so Clinical
CosciaMoos quickly got to work interviewing OSH leadership and staff to better understand how their clinics operated, and how they were able to constantly deliver such high-quality care. Oak Street Health’s model is truly innovative. And their clinics are purpose-built to address the inefficiencies and unpleasantries that pervade the American healthcare system. As CosciaMoos learned more about the Oak Street model, the firm was able to draw on its healthcare expertise to optimize layouts and improve clinic efficiency, which meant that Oak Street Health’s Philadelphia locations could provide more patients a higher level of care.
But it’s not just about exam rooms and staff flow. To more effectively reach their community, Oak Street focuses on making their clinics places people actually want to visit. As one patient has said, “Oak Street is more than just a clinic. It’s a place where you can come and enjoy other patients. It’s a place where you can relax before seeing your doctor.”
The heart of every Oak Street Health location is a large community area. These rooms are generous, flexible spaces where the clinic hosts community events and activities, including group exercises, cooking instruction, and computer classes. They’re also safe spaces, offering comfort and security in communities where those things can’t be taken for granted. CosciaMoos paid special attention to the patient experience in these shared spaces, refining the brand standard with new finishes and new textures, along with other changes that made the clinic feel warmer and more human.
While Oak Street struggled with previous collaborators who underestimated the intricacies of a retail brand rollout, the Philadelphia projects met their schedules and exceeded expectations. Before CosciaMoos finished their three-clinic rollout, OSH asked them to take on three more in the Philly area. Soon, CosciaMoos and Oak Street Health were working together on clinics across the Mid-Atlantic region.
Design that Pays Dividends
After the successful East Coast rollout, Oak Street asked CosciaMoos to oversee their expansion into new markets. “We made the decision to have CosciaMoos serve as the master architect because they understood our program, had the bandwidth and knowledge to scale up, and have vast experience working in multiple cities,” says Gerick Smith, the former Director of Real Estate for Oak Street Health. He also appreciated the firm’s boldness and expertise: “When I had a bad idea, they told me that it was a bad idea. I loved that.”
With every project, CosciaMoos continued to refine the brand manual, developing a more reliable program of fixtures, finishes, and furnishings alongside new model layouts for spaces ranging from 5,000 square feet up to 15,000 square feet. The firm’s efficiency and insight helped Oak Street rapidly expand to 54 clinics in 13 states. The successful expansion of their patient-centered primary care services proved the value of their business model.
In 2020, Oak Street Health went public with an initial $328M offering. Once that happened, the true expansion began.
Leveraging Expertise in National Retail
The biggest challenge facing any national brand is speed. For healthcare providers, those challenges are compounded. Doctors and support staff have to be interviewed, hired, and trained months in advance. Community outreach and education must be done to lay groundwork for the clinic. New infrastructure and logistics services need to be built out to ensure clients receive elevated concierge-level care on day one. And that all needs to happen on a very strict timeline. Any delay is incredibly expensive. Architecture must not slow things down.
For CosciaMoos, the job isn’t just about designing comfortable and functional spaces, it’s about ensuring those designs can be repeated anywhere in the country, in almost any space, in any neighborhood — and constructed on a predictable timeline. That means all the mechanical equipment, medical devices, lighting fixtures, furnishings, and millwork must also be ready on that timeline. Taking Oak Street Health national required a comprehensive overhaul of the design manual and project management approach. The firm developed new standards that were obtainable anywhere in the country, and devised backup plans for dealing with unexpected lead time and supply chain issues. CosciaMoos also built new partnerships with local consultants to get their boots-on-the-ground insight, and helped Oak Street Health build new relationships with national manufacturers to leverage buying power and dependability.
Drawing on their experience in nationwide retail, the architects advised Oak Street on the construction procurement process and educated company leadership on new best practices and realistic expectations. In a rollout scenario, the firm’s goal is to remove any guesswork from the construction timeline. Everything is specifically defined and rigorously executed. And on those rare moments when problems do occur, the team resolves them quickly. “They’re a true defender of the client,” says Smith. “If you have a retail brand or program, I’d recommend CosciaMoos all day long.”
Supporting Future Growth
Today, Oak Street Health has more than 200 clinics across 20 states. The majority, by far, have been overseen by CosciaMoos. Their clinics are serving more than 150,000 patients, providing life-saving and life-affirming care. Their commitment to serving the 65+ community with a patient-centered approach has earned them the exclusive endorsement of the AARP. The design is also earning attention from the medical community. In 2021, the well-designed practice environments contributed to Oak Street Health being recognized by the American Medical Association with a Joy in Medicine Award. These clinics are places where patients actually enjoy their time and top medical professionals want to work.
CosciaMoos continues to act as architect for Oak Street Health, improving patient and provider experience, streamlining the construction process, and exploring new ways of providing the care people everywhere deserve. Oak Street Health is changing lives and saving lives across the country. CosciaMoos is proud to play a small role in that change.