Less capital will be available this year for design and construction in healthcare organizations as they divert funds to information systems, network formation and physician practice acquisitions.
The challenge to facility managers: maintaining attractive facilities in a cost-conscious environment.
Because of rapid change in the healthcare industry, many organizations are still trying to map their futures. This uncertainty may lead to delays or cancellations of building projects.
Most of the money spent on construction will continue to go for renovations of inpatient space for ambulatory care, diagnostic services, long-term care and step-down units.
Some 51% of the respondents to MODERN HEALTHCARE's Design & Construction Survey in 1995 predicted that hospital-based outpatient care would offer the biggest opportunity for healthcare construction in the next three years. And 29.4% of respondents said freestanding outpatient care would capture most of the market.
In order to save money and cut risk, healthcare organizations will increase the use of financing options such as leasing of medical office buildings and joint ventures with developers.
As healthcare networks and alliances proliferate, providers will sell real estate assets they no longer need.
The result will be more pressure on facilities' managers to document the investment returns and cost efficiencies of a project.
The industry's trend toward fewer inpatient beds will spark development of acute-care rooms with more amenities for families and care teams. Patient-focused care will take on dual meaning: the critical needs of the inpatient and the traffic needs of the growing mass of outpatients.
New construction and adaptive re-use projects will spur more primary-care and wellness centers in remote areas. More banks and shopping malls will be modified into convenient doctors' offices or outpatient facilities.
With less invasive diagnostic and treatment methods on the drawing board, providers will look to build more capability for "high-tech" ambulatory care.
These designs are slowly being developed. But again, lack of capital and uncertainties surrounding network decisions could stall final implementation.
With time-pressed healthcare executives reluctant to take on the role of project manager, companies that offer design/build capabilities may gain more business as providers look for firms that take sole responsibility for project delivery.