Four Tips for Health Care Construction Success With Technology Integrators

General contractors and subcontractors can effectively work with single source technology integrators in new construction of hospitals and clinics.
By Eric Brackett
August 23, 2020

There is significant increase in the number of hospitals, clinics and outpatient centers that are being built or remodeled across the country, in part due to the rise in demand for healthcare from an aging population and more access to health insurance.

To take part in this rapid growth in healthcare related construction, however, general contractors and subcontractors will need to effectively work with single source technology integrators.

Such technology professionals can provide a necessary, sophisticated level of technology integration that goes beyond brick-and-mortar construction to the design and installation of networking, communications, electronic record-keeping and patient/staff security systems.

For general contractors and subcontractors who want a greater share of healthcare construction jobs, here are four tips to work more successfully, profitably and productively with single source technology integrators during the earliest phases of construction. Following these tips can facilitate the integrator’s role in the design, install and management of an integrated package of systems while coordinating with other more traditional aspects of construction.

1. Partner with Technology Integrators

Integration, defined on as “an act or instance of combining into an integral whole,” can be a somewhat vague concept because the combination of parts can be unending, while each individual solution is specific to the application.

What is known is that the best integrators are those that have an extensive knowledge of the available products and component parts of any system and are able to connect them together in a manner that extracts significant added value. In other words, the “whole” [a properly integrated system] should be much greater than the sum of its parts.
In healthcare, with new construction booming “integration” has taken on new meanings as well.

To start, technology integration in new hospital, medical group or clinic construction now encompasses an array of options from network IT and Wi-Fi access points, to access control systems, physical security cameras, alarms, VoIP phones, nurse call systems and environmental and temperature monitoring – to name a few.

Then there is integration of effort and coordination with other aspects of new construction when installing such systems.
Technology integration, it turns out, is not covered under the umbrella of the general contractor. That means technology integrators, often hired by building owners, must coordinate and integrate their efforts with the general contractor and associated plumbers, electricians, drywall installers, painters and other tradesmen in a side-by-side effort.

In addition, technology integrators often coordinate with healthcare company personnel tasked with overseeing specific aspects of the installation, whether environmental control managers, IT staff or physical security experts.
In short, any integration – if not properly coordinated, scheduled and executed with accommodations for last minute changes, etc. – can be a nightmare for both general contractors and subcontractors.

To avoid this scenario, healthcare companies, along with construction professionals, are turning to single source technology integrators. Such integrators can not only can handle the full array of technologies, but can also do so down to the installation of the low voltage wiring, cabling, conduit trays, wireless antennas, hubs, electronic equipment racks and even the locks on the exit doors.

By working with a single source technology provider that offers a menu of technology offerings, general contractors and subcontractors have a single point of contact for overall system design, installation, management and support. This can save healthcare organizations and construction contractors significant time and money in technology consultation, along with saving “a lot of aggravation and headaches” related to managing construction staff.

2. Plan for Evolving Technology

Traditionally, voice, data, network and physical security system purchases have been made independently. Security cameras and access control systems, for example, are implemented by security integrators, while VoIP phone systems are installed by telecom providers. In this approach, each vendor offers a proprietary solution with little consideration as to how it will be converged with other aspects of the network.

However, for general contractors and subcontractors, integration of these applications during new construction or remodeling can provide significant revenue, security, and savings to the project’s and healthcare organization’s bottom line.

Traditional vendors in commercial security, VoIP or even IT may try to push products they promote, which might not be a fully operational solution to the business problem they are attempting to solve.

Other vendors may not comprehend the full integration potential so are unable to go the extra mile to deliver advanced functional capabilities that are built into the system.

As an example, an access control system can be integrated with the HR database to coordinate changes in employee status such as termination, to automatically activate or deactivate an employee keycard. If that same employee has remote access to the security cameras, the network can disable the account immediately.

3. Manage Costs

Although for general contractors and subcontractors, technology integrators sound like a high-end service with a commensurate price tag, that is not the case. An integrated approach to IT with the best-of-breed solutions on the market delivers economies of efficiency and scale that are often passed on to the customer.

When engaging with a managed IT service provider, it is also important that customers know what they are paying for with contracts that clearly spell out each installed product, feature, and support item or service they are purchasing.
Technology integrators should bear the cost of providing an initial assessment of their needs. The bid should itemize the costs for equipment and support. The vendor should anticipate future upgrade paths in order to provide transparency to future expenses. In this way, a customer knows their initial, ongoing and upgrade costs and can budget accordingly.

4. Plan for Ongoing IT Management and Support

For construction professionals, it is important to note also that the role of the technology integrator does not end once the system is installed. Proactive monitoring should be employed, so that the system actively oversees technology performance to identify anomalies even before a malfunction occurs. Problems are addressed proactively often without the customer even knowing about it. When site visits are required, the monitoring system dispatches an engineer without interrupting the customer.

With a proactive model, far fewer healthcare IT resources are used. This minimizes the impact on daily operations and enables an IT department to focus on the core business rather than babysitting systems for lower level network needs.
And ultimately, the happier the healthcare customer is with the construction project, the more likely general contractors and subcontractors will receive referrals for future business.

by Eric Brackett
BTI, a technology convergence provider, serves the healthcare, logistics and aerospace sectors.

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