Healthcare facilities are facing new challenges and opportunities for growth. With emerging technologies revolutionizing each department, there is a growing need to renovate existing areas and increase new construction for added capacity and beds. It is estimated that for the next 20 years, over 10,000 Americans will turn 65 every day. This poses many challenges that are being answered in new and innovative ways. Disaster withstanding and harnessing new technologies for the construction process are also prominent for growing trends.
In the past, priorities had mainly been placed on volume of rooms and caring for sick patients first. Many healthcare facilities have changed their fundamental approach to instead focus on providing the highest quality care to as many patients as they can without compromising on the quality standards. The ability to provide high-quality care to patients goes back as far as the construction planning phase and taking into account developing trends and needs in the industry.
It is estimated that over 150,000 healthcare practitioners will be needed in the next few years. Moreover, with 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, an increase in beds required will increase the number of doctors needed.
With a strong need for more doctors, the anticipated medical office growth is expected to outpace the existing healthcare real estate supply. This is especially concerning for major metropolitan areas such as New York and Dallas/ Fort Worth where space is a premium. This leads to a re-thinking of new construction and existing real estate space and how to utilize space to answer the growing demand.
Technology is also a driving force for new and renovated construction, and the increasing need for medical care is changing the healthcare industry and influencing the way primary care is given. New technology such as virtual reality and BIM modeling tools are enabling all members of the construction team to easily share and collaborate during the design and planning phases. The ability to visually look at new construction plans and do a virtual ‘walk through’ are creating new efficiencies.
Traditionally, the construction industry has struggled to employ the full benefits of technologies such as advanced data and analytics, mobile technology, and BIM modeling. With many projects becoming larger and more complex, the healthcare industry is taking notice of what emerging technology can do and making the shift to use these tools. Many project management software tools incorporate these features, and it allows front-runner healthcare facilities to spend less time and money correcting mistakes. This creates more time to provide and plan for quality care for new patients.
Greater emphasis is also being placed on withstanding disasters and planning for resilience. With global disasters rising by over 400 percent in the last decade, many new construction healthcare facilities are including disaster planning early in the design phase. Some healthcare facilities are moving more systems above ground and converting to wireless vs. underground hard-wiring. Other facilities are including storm walls to reduce the risk of flooding and to introduce ‘command and control’ rooms to direct staff and patients during a disaster that can act as boardrooms during non-emergencies.
Additionally, more hospitals are starting to set up micro-hospitals to increase convenience and reduce the incoming patients for larger traditional hospitals. Mini-hospitals average 35,000 square feet and may be open 24/7 with capacity for 10-20 patients. This lessens the burden on substantial hospitals and gives a level of convenience. New construction of micro-hospitals has increased exponentially since 2017 and is expected to continue.
A continued area of focus is on preventive care with population health driving it; the goal is to prevent illness through wellness and education to help people live longer and fuller lives. With many different forces pushing the healthcare trends, many hospitals are rethinking old processes and evaluating new approaches.
Technology will be a driving force for both new construction of facilities and renovation of existing spaces. By utilizing technology during all phases of building, it is helping healthcare facilities to remain on the cutting edge, improve communications, and ensure that the construction project is not obsolete before it is finished by decreasing risk and an increasing return on investment. With the need to do more with less; healthcare facilities are embracing what technology can offer.