Construction spending for healthcare facility projects is one of the largest spending industries in the world. In 2022, construction spending is projected to reach about 46.7 billion U.S. dollars. For example, the Destination Medical Center (DMC) in Rochester, Minnesota, finished earlier this year, costing $5.6 billion alone. Mortenson Co. developed the first phase of the DMC, Discovery Square, starting in 2016 and completed in April 2019. The project will continue in two more phases costing hundreds of millions of dollars to build transportation and parking structures.
Aside from the millions of dollars spent on healthcare construction, renovating already occupied medical facilities and hospitals poses many challenges for contractors. Hospital construction is highly regulated, from fire and safety codes to all the plumbing and electrical work needed when a medical facility undergoes development. Additionally, many things could go wrong on a job site, especially when the job site is a hospital or medical facility. That is why closely following regulations, safety guidelines, and best practices are imperative while working on these projects.
The 5 Healthcare Construction Best Practices
1. Invest in Technology for Healthcare Construction
Embracing technology is key to getting ahead in construction. The same goes for the multi-billion-dollar sector of construction, healthcare construction. Large construction companies that excel in healthcare like Turner Construction Co., McCarthy Holdings, and Skanska USA stay ahead of the curve by investing in leading technology. Some of the cutting-edge innovations they use include:
— Project Management Software: Project management software helps contractors stay organized and keep track of different projects at their various stages. Project management software encourages collaboration by hosting a centralized communication and documentation hub. Clear communication and proper documentation are critical to completing a successful project and limiting change orders and reducing rework. Get a demo >
Don’t take it from us, check out this article on an HVAC subcontractor that performed $4M in change orders on a medical center project in New York.
— BIM & V.R.: Building information modeling and virtual reality can help designers and contractors visualize the facility before construction begins. For instance, BIM can consider doctor and nurse workflow for hospital efficiency, and medical professionals can review designs before contractors put plans into action.
— Integrated Data Management & Business Intelligence Systems: Collecting data through a data management system is essential during every step of construction. Secondly, data systems can help maximize resources and space efficiency by analyzing data points on a project.
— Field Inspection Software: Field inspection software can help ensure that you are keeping track of codes and standards. Field inspection software can help provide proper project closeout documentation with a complete set of data.
2. Conduct a Preliminary Site Inspection
Whether the project is an existing medical facility with patients or building a hospital from the ground up, knowing the site you’re relying on is crucial. A preliminary site inspection should include confirmation of the location of utilities such as gas and water. During this time, your team should note any hazardous materials or working conditions to prevent rework and delays.
3. Develop a Safety Plan
Before construction begins, your business should establish a safety plan. Safety plans are necessary not only for the workers on the construction project but in this case, the patients that are currently at the medical facility that is undergoing renovations. Above all, ensure that utility shutdowns and switchovers are adequately planned and communicated to medical personnel.
4. Keep Up with Healthcare Construction Trends
With technology readily available now more than ever, state of the art medical facilities are now the norm. Keeping up with the leaders in the healthcare construction sector is the best practice for winning more jobs and building state of the art medical facilities.
— Patient comfort: The importance and priority placed on patient care are increasingly more popular. Patients want to receive treatment in hospitals and facilities where they feel the most comfortable. With an abundance of hospitals now meeting patient needs, patients have the power to choose which facilities to receive treatment. Multi-use facilities provide a one-stop-shop for patients and make receiving treatment more convenient. Consider the approach of a multi-use facility along with patient comfort on your next healthcare construction project.
— Sustainability: To run a 200,000-square-foot, 50-bed hospital, on average, it costs around $680,000 for gas and electricity annually. Larger hospitals or mega healthcare construction projects run the cost up and use more significant amounts of power. Healthcare facilities that use sustainable construction promote costs savings and long-term value for investors. Make sure to think about not only the community but also the environmental impact the waste from your project creates.
5. Understand the Risk of Infection
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that companies provide their construction workers, building in or around a hospital, educational materials to inform them on how they can negatively impact patients. One problem hospitals have faced while undergoing construction is the development of mold or aspergillus. Healthy people don’t usually suffer from breathing in this common mold. However, sick people or people with weakened immune systems are susceptible to contracting infections from it. Proper training on how to contain construction site dust particles that could be carrying mold or other toxic materials should be provided to all crew members.
In conclusion, regulations and safety codes help monitor job site conditions. Following these best practices will supplement mandated laws and assist your company in becoming a recognized healthcare construction company.