Future of Healthcare Construction

August 24, 2012

Hospital construction projects are evolving rapidly. In many cases, facilities need to be more technologically advanced than ever before, which is requiring owners and contractors to carefully plan cabling and wireless infrastructure in advance of the ever-changing medical technologies.

Just this week, DPR Construction, www.dpr.com, Redwood City, Calif., released a “Future of Healthcare” study predicting how economics, delivery, and buildings of the future will play a role in the next decade of healthcare. As the study from DPR points out, while fewer new projects will take place, renovations are on the rise. In particular, the study finds big trends include electronic medical records, handheld computers and portable diagnostic equipment, and evidence-based medicine, among others.

What this all boils down to is health-information technology will remain critical to ensuring services in hospitals and other healthcare facilities are delivered as efficiently as possible. For contractors, this requires incorporating the proper IT infrastructure to ensure the facilities are highly connected.

DPR’s National Healthcare Group Leader, Hamilton Espinosa, says, “As health technologies become more sophisticated and simultaneously require less physical space, server and data center support needs will increase. Future building will need to accommodate these trends, with increased emphasis around design and system integration to save on costs.”

One example of such a building is the Palomar Medical Center, which DPR Construction calls the “Hospital of the Future.” The facility is wired with 57 miles of Ethernet Cat 6e (category 6e) cable, which will enable the owner to continue to change medical technology as needed, without doing significant overhauls to the building’s infrastructure.

This structure also has a DAS (distance antenna system), allowing cellphone reception throughout the center, and WAP (wireless access points), which will allow patients families and other visitors to connect to the Internet. In the future, the WAP will also allow medical professionals to have access to patient information.

Technology in the healthcare space is advancing very rapidly, requiring owners and contractors to incorporate the necessary infrastructure in facilities. The increase of technology in facilities will also necessitate careful planning and detailed documentation during the construction process—in many cases requiring the use of BIM (building information modeling) on projects.

Interested in learning more about the role technologies such as BIM and others will play on healthcare construction projects going forward? This year’s Technology Day event will include a panel that will discuss changing delivery models and how technology applies to various processes, such as closeout, on large hospital construction projects.