By {{Article.AuthorName}} | {{Article.PublicationDate.slice(6, -2) | date:'EEEE, MMMM d, y'}}
{{TotalFavorites}} Favorite{{TotalFavorites>1? 's' : ''}}

Few construction projects are as complex as those in health care. Why? The design and construction of a health care facility directly impacts human life, so planning is vital to success.

Innovation in the space, which has made major advancements over the past decade, increases the complexity of the build due to constantly evolving designs and the need to accommodate modern technologies.

For instance, the “internet of medical things” has increased doctors’ capabilities to monitor patients remotely in real time, reducing the amount of patient rooms needed in some medical facilities. Additionally, the rise in virtual reality and robotics for surgeons has resulted in a need for more VR training spaces, as well as an increase in smart operating rooms.

Now, to add to the complexity of health care construction projects, enter COVID-19.

The pandemic not only disrupted the entire industry, but has altered how nearly every project is being—and will be—designed and built.

Space Efficiency

COVID-19 amplified the need to drive efficiency back into buildings.

For the past several years, there was a trend to have grand entry spaces and amenities that were visually appealing to patients or visitors. Yet, ultimately, these spaces did not generate ROI, and COVID-19 only amplified the industry’s move away from this trend. Additionally, the pandemic has caused a dramatic rise in the adaptation of telemedicine. If this trend sticks, it will further the industry’s move to more of an acute care model and less demand for longer-term patient spaces.

This has resulted in master plans being reexamined by key stakeholders, designers and construction teams. For example, non-revenue producing areas such as waiting rooms are being reconfigured to better accommodate patient needs, social distancing and general safety and wellbeing, while also allowing for the expansion of critical spaces. The trend of more semi-private rooms being converted to private rooms takes on the added urgency related to pandemics such as COVID-19 to encourage social distancing. Quarantine wings are being added or expanded.

Construction teams are crucial to this process as they can use models and data to ensure every inch is accounted for and developed smartly.

Build Efficiency

By collaborating with clients and leveraging technology, construction teams can overcome the hurdles brought by COVID-19 to build post-pandemic facilities in an even more safe and efficient manner.

For example, on every project, Suffolk implements “plan and control,” a platform of tools and processes that tightens the collaboration among all the stakeholders to optimize results and add significant value for clients (i.e. higher quality, safer, faster, less expensive projects delivered with greater precision).

The process, which makes critical information available to all stakeholders earlier in the planning process by leveraging sophisticated modeling technologies, breaks down silos and drives teamwork.

From employing “plan and control” on health care projects for the past several years, the collected and analyzed data from every experience provides an unmatched level of predictability on projects. This data also helps inform partners to tackle any challenge so building conflicts (and subsequent delays) can be minimized. This is especially valuable as health care projects are currently undergoing major modifications.

Another key to building efficiently is safety. While safety is a priority across all construction sites, it is looked at through a different lens on health care projects since every single component centers around the ultimate health and safety of patients.

COVID-19 has only amplified how safety is handled on health care projects, and new technologies are already being implemented on sites to ensure all regulations are being met or exceeded. To reduce the number of people needed on a site at one time, robotics are being used for visual inspections. There’s also new tech-enabled equipment and safety gear being applied on sites to ensure proper social distancing.

What’s Next?

As COVID-19 proved, the future of health care construction is hard to predict, but the industry can expect that any slow down will be temporary.

As work resumes, contractors should challenge those in the construction industry to challenge their health care clients to think about their project as a blank sheet. All preconceived notions about what is possible should be removed. Uncover a client’s true needs and ask those in the field, such as nurses and doctors, how they would design it—and lean on the construction team to find solutions that bring this vision to life.

While health care innovation has come a long way in 10 years, so has construction innovation, and contractors are now able to make what was once impossible, possible.


 Comments ({{Comments.length}})

  • {{comment.Name}}


    {{comment.DateCreated.slice(6, -2) | date: 'MMM d, y h:mm:ss a'}}

Leave a comment

Required! Not valid email!