What Hospitals Should Require From Construction Firms

In North Texas and elsewhere, builders are moving away from being reactive, individual contributors. Instead, they’re seeking to become integrated, proactive partners with the other arms of the project—architects, subcontractors, and clients.

That shift is even more in play when it comes to healthcare, and the changing relationship has placed an even greater emphasis on trust.

North Texas’ healthcare community continues to see projects on the rise as systems set out to meet the needs of a growing population. But before a hospital takes the plunge and hires a general contractor, they should know about and expect the following four things from construction firms, which can help ensure a successful builder partnership—and, ultimately, a successful project.

  1. Behavior-based selection

North Texas has the benefit of a deep pool of qualified construction companies. The list of companies in town that can build most buildings is long, which makes the team and people the differentiating factors. One of the best ways owners can ensure they are making the best builder selection is by pursuing behavior-based selections.

Instead of rehearsed presentations, our clients are leaning toward simulations and real, personal interaction to determine who their team will be. Simulations enable teammates to see how their prospective partners will operate in a real scenario, ensuring their approach and reactions will mesh with the rest of the team. Owners should push hard for true face-to-face interaction.

  1. Data and analytics

Owners should demand their builder stays apprised of current market conditions. Owners should also be able to tap into their general contractor’s data and analytics, so they can stay current with construction costs and trends throughout the region. North Texas is currently one of the busiest construction markets, and we’re seeing volatility in the cost of building materials as well as a shortage of skilled labor; both can cause price escalation.

Healthcare clients make significant financial decisions for projects a year or more before construction, so real-time and future-looking analytics on costs are key to making effective budget decisions throughout the process. It could make a difference of millions of dollars in the hard cost of a project.

  1. 3D visualization

Land in North Texas is at a premium, and our customers seek better utilization of owned land. Thus, we are seeing a rise in renovation or replacement projects on existing healthcare campuses. In many cases, the buildings being renovated were constructed before technology such as 3D modeling was available, which now enables us to digitally create the building. Prior to 3D modeling, some of the biggest failures in the construction and design process involved communication breakdowns between “construction people” and “hospital people.” Healthcare clients should expect their contractor to create 3D models of their existing space so they can better visualize the future renovations.

Hospital projects involve countless stakeholders. If all stakeholders visually understand how the building’s overall function and design will impact their daily operations, they will be better equipped to provide feedback throughout the building and design process. We use virtual reality  and augmented reality to help convey the look and feel of the building digitally. When a surgeon or nurse is put in a virtual operating room, they can clearly see how the room is oriented and laid out, using VR.  This gives all stakeholders complete buy-in on the design—down to the location of a plug—and minimizes the likelihood that changes will need to be made later in the process, which can cause delays and add cost.

  1. Partnering to minimize construction impact

Owners should expect their builder to partner with hospital operations to identify ways to phase and plan the projects to avoid disruption and dissatisfaction. Two of the 11 rating criteria in a hospital’s HCAHP (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) score are specifically impacted by construction—cleanliness and quietness. A construction crew’s impact on these scores should be part of the discussion from project conception. Owners should also require creativity and open-mindedness in developing building solutions that maintain patient satisfaction levels.

Joe Jouvenal is the senior vice president for McCarthy Building Companies in Dallas.

Posted in Expert Opinions.