In 2009, OhioHealth decided to take a hard look at its neuroscience capabilities. At the time, its program was the fifth-busiest in the state, and demographic changes, such as aging baby boomers, suggested that volumes could continue to increase. “All of that said this is a really robust area for future growth,” said Connie Gallaher, OhioHealth vice president.
The Columbus-based system this month opened a $300 million neuroscience center at Riverside Methodist Hospital, its largest facility. The project, which was funded with cash reserves, will allow the hospital to attract not only patients, but also neurologists. In addition, it will enable OhioHealth to offer private hospital rooms, a trend that has taken over the Columbus-area market, said Dave Blom, the system's CEO.
OhioHealth joins the ranks of a number of systems that are once again in building mode. After a period in which health systems largely turned their attention and capital spending to health information-technology needs, there are signs that the construction industry is getting a second wind—although OhioHealth is also in the middle of a major electronic health-records system conversion.
Most of the focus has been on outpatient services as healthcare increasingly shifts to lower-cost care settings. Health systems and hospital chains also are opening free-standing emergency departments to bring in additional volume. But even on the inpatient side, there's a greater emphasis on service line planning as hospitals seek to become more competitive in high-margin specialties. In addition to the improving economy, health systems feel more certainty around the future of the Affordable Care Act.
“The whole economy is on a slow but steady rise,” said Thomas Gormley, a Nashville-based project executive at AECOM, a global design and construction firm. “There seems to be a lot more money flowing into healthcare construction these days.”