Siemens Healthineers Stefanie Vonhoff innovates for hospitals

Siemens Healthineers Stefanie Vonhoff innovates for hospitals

 July 11, 2024

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Meet Stefanie Vonhoff, an Architect in Facility Design & Planning Services at Siemens Healthineers.

Speaking with colleague Katja Gäbelein, Stefanie discusses the ever-evolving world of facility planning and her career journey.

Making a career change 

Siemens Healthineers career

Stefanie Vonhoff recalls the mountains of paperwork that filled the offices of her earlier architectural firms. Dusty sketch rolls cluttered every corner and the drawers were overflowing. That was before Stefanie joined Siemens Healthineers as an architect.

For Stefanie, a mother of four raising her two youngest children on her own, a career change marked a venture into the unknown terrain of hospital planning - one of the "supreme disciplines" of architecture in terms of complexity. Ever since, Stefanie has been planning a wide variety of hospital wards with her colleagues in the Facility Design & Planning Services department, which is part of the Enterprise Services unit. Stefanie is now team lead of the Partnership Projects group.

The 65-strong multidisciplinary team that makes up the Facility Design & Planning Services department includes architects, technology planners, 3D experts, CAD engineers, and software developers.

"Efficiency plays a major role both in my architectural planning and in my private life. As a single mother, I have to be very structured to make sure I can keep all the plates spinning," says Stefanie.

Learning something new every day 

Siemens Healthineers healthcare architect

"What I love about my job is the diversity of people and professional groups I get to work with. And also that everything here is digital and efficient," says Stefanie.

As she speaks to Katja, Stefanie surveys a large number of colored digital boxes on her computer screen. This is a project management tool developed in-house at Siemens Healthineers. With it, she can see the status of ongoing customer projects around the globe. The Facility Design & Planning Services team executes some 8,000 planning projects in around 80 different countries every year. 

From her computer, Stefanie designs layouts for more or less anything conceivable in the clinical sector: radiology, cardiology, and nuclear medicine departments, therapy centers, emergency departments, and much more. Sometimes entirely new buildings are needed, and sometimes the task is to modernize or expand existing facilities. Stefanie acquired the necessary specialized knowledge of medical technology step by step. “And I learn something new every day,” Stefanie says with a laugh.

Countless factors have to be taken into account when planning hospitals, Stefanie explains: "How can large-scale equipment such as CT or MRI scanners be moved into buildings, especially if they don't fit through the doorways? How do we best position MRI scanners to prevent imaging interference caused by moving masses of metal, such as cars, trains, or elevators? How do we ensure that all users of these facilities are able to clearly find their way around?" These are just a few examples of the challenges hospital architects face.

A job that's all about people

Siemens Healthineers hospitals

People are at the heart of everything: in addition to enabling efficient treatment, premises should offer a positive atmosphere that supports the patients' healing process. For instance, the design experts factor in daylight for this very purpose, as daylight can have a positive effect on the psyche.

Intelligent space planning with optimized walking routes and workflows helps ease the work of personnel in their hectic daily hospital routines. When smart planning enables more patients to be examined and treated in less time, it can help people access medical care more quickly.

One-stop-shop for architectural, clinical and technical expertise

Siemens Healthineers technology

"We're able to give our customers comprehensive advice because we combine architectural and clinical know-how with knowledge of large-scale medical equipment, and technical expertise," says Stefanie, with some pride. The team also involves clinical consultants such as physicians and nurses in its work.

Planning hospital departments efficiently requires an interplay of teamwork, technology, and direct exchange with customers. In addition to 2D and 3D visualizations, and virtual and augmented reality tools developed in-house at Siemens Healthineers, the multidisciplinary team uses digital twinning to simulate clinical workflows: "This enables our customers to get a clear picture of their departments and even walk through their facility virtually long before construction work actually begins," says Stefanie.

With the help of digital twinning and workflow simulation, the team can identify at an early stage the areas that customers could potentially optimize. To do this, the team runs through various planning scenarios using virtual patients, virtual staff, and various virtual medical devices, and performs stress tests.

For example, Stefanie and her team produced a simulation for a planned renovation of the MRI department at Red Cross Hospital in the city of Beverwijk in the Netherlands. In doing so, they uncovered potential for making its workflows more efficient.

Stefanie explains that she and her colleagues rarely visit the project construction sites. Rather, the Facility Design & Planning Services team leverage their expertise to work with local architectural firms and revise existing draft plans on request. The actual onsite construction work is then carried out by architects and local construction firms.

Growing importance of sustainability in hospital planning

In addition to the human-centered approach, which puts patients and medical staff at the heart of everything, the topic of sustainability is also receiving more attention in the face of climate change.

Stefanie knows that hospital departments can be made more sustainable by, for instance, using resource-saving large diagnostic equipment. The MAGNETOM Flow scanner4, for example, is the first 1.5-tesla platform from Siemens Healthineers to feature virtually helium-free technology and reduced energy consumption.

Efficiency is Stefanie's recipe for success at work and home

Siemens Healthineers futureshapers

Stefanie's professional work is not the only part of her life that is guided by efficient planning. Her 16- and 17-year-old sons, Ben and Paul, still live at home with her. Stefanie has been juggling childcare and her career largely on her own as a single mother for 11 years. This demands a high degree of organization.

Stefanie lives in a multi-generational housing project where fellow residents support her by, for example, helping to look after the family dog. Stefanie's job is also adaptable, thanks to flexible hours and the option of working from home.

Many challenges lie ahead for the hospitals of the future: demographic change, rising healthcare costs, a shortage of skilled workers, and the effects of climate change - to name just a few.

Together with her multidisciplinary team, Stefanie will continue working to ensure that hospitals around the world remain a healing place for patients and the people who work there. Stefanie will continue drawing on her years of experience, with support from intelligent technology. And Stefanie will remain straightforward and efficient in her work - using as little paper as possible.

Enjoy a pioneering healthcare career at Siemens Healthineers

Stefanie is one of many Futureshapers helping Siemens Healthineers pioneer breakthroughs in healthcare, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to help improve people’s lives around the world.

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