- Supply chain disruptions, labor issues and rising costs are the primary roadblocks to healthcare construction projects in 2022.
- COVID-19 drove change in healthcare facilities design and operations – and influenced ongoing sustainability efforts.
- Premier’s Facilities, Construction and Capital Services Team helps healthcare organizations strategically and effectively plan, build and maintain facilities.
Construction initiatives in healthcare, and across industries, continue to face headwinds in a volatile COVID-19 economy. Supply chain disruptions, rising prices, workforce issues and heightened demand are significant roadblocks to getting healthcare facility construction projects back on track.
After COVID-19 stoppages and shutdowns over the past 2+ years, many projects are again moving forward — but often with added time and heftier price tags, which typically haven’t been reflected in initial project bids and budgets.
What follows are three key trends for healthcare construction in 2022 and beyond, and some insights and advice about how to prepare.
#1 Supply Availability and Pricing Challenges Continue
Prices of construction materials used in new nonresidential construction jumped more than 21 percent from February 2021 to February 2022, according to an analysis from the Associated General Contractors of America. Combined with a 50 percent jump in developable land costs and the rising costs of skilled labor, price tags for healthcare construction and other industrial projects are on the rise.
The construction industry has been particularly hard hit by staffing turnover (21.4 percent) and supply chain delays, with some products such as steel and oil-based products seeing availability issues, longer lead times and higher costs. The war and sanctions on Russia continue to exacerbate existing energy, transportation and manufacturing (limiting access to raw materials) challenges.
For healthcare organizations looking to offset rising construction costs, utilizing purchasing groups and contracts for materials and services is key. With one of the strongest contract portfolios in the industry, Premier helps our members save on thousands of products and services. Since the pandemic began in Q1 of 2020, Premier’s contracted portfolio has observed a 1.5 percent inflationary increase, whereas other supplier spend increased by 5.2 percent over the same time period — a differential of nearly 3X.
New materials and construction design are also helping to address affordability and sustainability concerns. Modular solutions are growing in popularity as these solutions can provide high-quality options with a faster completion timeline, easier maintenance over the lifetime, and allow for greater flexibility and customization. Additionally, Premier is seeing used/refurbished and rental capital trending up as hospitals look for more cost-effective solutions, and in some cases, availability and lead times are driving this decision.
#2 The Pandemic Drives Design Shifts
Healthcare construction is expected to accelerate into 2026, largely driven by an aging U.S. population and increased demand for healthcare services. According to the 2022 Hospital Construction Survey conducted by Health Facilities Management (HFM), hospitals continue to invest in acute care facilities, with acute care projects underway or in the planning stages increasing from 16 percent in 2021 to 23 percent in 2022.
Like other facets of healthcare, COVID-19 influenced significant change in facilities and operations, with hospitals and other healthcare organizations reviewing practices and necessary design changes in patient care and other key areas.
Hospitals nationally are accelerating investments in outpatient services, including telehealth, urgent care as well as ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs).
Today’s construction projects should also consider preparedness for managing future pandemics and other needs with a high influx of patients and across care settings. Premier’s team of experts serves as an extension of a provider’s team — supporting design assistance on construction projects, quality assurance, logistics support and more.
From upgrades and reinventing spaces to advanced health and safety measures to mitigate disease spread, the landscape is ever-changing and demands healthcare providers stay up to date.
#3 A Continued Focus on Sustainability
An increasing number of providers are driving green innovations in healthcare that are cutting costs over the long-term, reducing environmental impact and minimizing negative consequences to public health.
Amid the pandemic, many health systems are renewing their commitment to sustainability, finding that healthcare construction projects are central to these endeavors.
In answering the need to both offset rising costs and promote environmental stewardship, providers are looking increasingly to modular/refurbished solutions — and to source cost-effective, sustainable building materials such as:
- Engineered Cementitious Composite (ECC) — aka bendable concrete. ECC contains small, polymer-derived fibers that make it stronger and more crack-resistant than traditional concrete. The result is a material that uses less cement and has a smaller carbon footprint. ECC’s durability also can also mean less time and money spent on repairing cracks and breakage.
- Engineered timber — created by bonding several types of softwood and resulting in a lumber material strong enough where it can be used as a replacement for steel and concrete. The benefits? Fewer emissions and less waste during the manufacturing process.
- Recycled materials — this certainly isn’t new, but considering current challenges, recycled materials are now increasingly being leveraged in construction projects.
- 3D-printed building materials — including concrete, walls, floors and other essentials needed in construction.
According to HFM’s 2022 Construction survey, 80 percent of hospitals are conducting audits to review energy performance, safety and sustainability. This is vital to an organization’s overall sustainability objectives, and ties closely to the reliability of equipment, systems and structures. COVID-19 also is driving greater investment in equipment such as air handlers, packaged HVAC systems, exhaust fans and temperature/humidity controls necessary for controlling airborne infections — and for supporting energy efficiency goals.
Through specific contracted suppliers, advanced analytics, and industry collaboration and advocacy, Premier is committed to supporting its members’ diverse sustainability objectives.
Alongside ongoing financial pressures and other pandemic-driven challenges, healthcare providers face uncertainty to future building needs. Today — affordability, safety and sustainability are top of mind.
Through industry-leading agreements, consulting, technology and staff support, Premier’s Facilities, Construction and Capital Services Team can help you strategically and effectively plan, build and maintain your facility.