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Because the health care sector is very competitive, medical facilities are using their designs to help entice patients, not only from a physical perspective, but also from an infrastructure perspective.

Since the inception of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, the health care sector has experienced a large increase in the number of people who have insurance coverage. In turn, this has created increased demand for hospitals and other medical facilities, forcing those in the business to offer more options in the way of outpatient services and walk-in urgent care facilities. The new focus is to shift risk toward health systems promoting prevention by keeping patients with chronic diseases out of hospitals through new public policy and marketplace incentives.

Outpatient and walk-in urgent care facilities are far less costly for organizations to construct than larger medical buildings and hospitals; therefore, these facilities are popping up in retail spaces and are most likely on short-term leases that do not require a large commitment from the organization. Not only are these facilities far less costly to build, but there is also a cost savings in the slow-downs of expansions and renovations of hospitals, which are no longer at full capacity. The increase in the number of outpatient facilities also reverts back to patient satisfaction: Patients are more comfortable seeing their doctors at an outpatient facility.

Patient amenities also are being considered during the initial planning and design phase of construction, including private or larger rooms, Wi-Fi, improved air ventilation, and the use of noise-reduction materials (such as paneling in the hallways) to give patients privacy.

In the Health Facilities Management 2016 Hospital Construction Survey, 86 percent of responders said that patient satisfaction is very important. As a result, 66 percent of respondents are converting semi-private rooms to private, and more than half are providing patients with access to lighting and temperature controls and window shades. It is becoming clearer that the patient experience matters almost as much as well-being, so health care and construction leaders are working together early in the building design phase.

Prefabrication of work is ideal for the health care sector because of the repetition in the construction, such as room layouts and bathrooms being built to the same specifications. According to the survey, 65 percent of recently completed projects are on or under budget or on or ahead of schedule. This is due to the increase in prefabrication, which converts construction into an assembly line process. The most important consideration in prefabricated construction is taking precise measurements and planning from all perspectives—from construction to delivery and on  to installation. 

Richard Riccardi is audit supervisor in the construction practice of Grassi & Co. For more information, call (516) 336-2403 or email rriccardi@grassicpas.com.

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