Healthcare News & Insights

Healthcare construction management: Debunking myths 

In 2019, healthcare construction projects were globally worth about $400 billion, with $31.8 billion in U.S. projects alone. Healthcare construction encompasses a wide variety of projects, such as state-of-the-art hospitals, small research labs, mid-size specialty clinics, long-term care facilities and much more. No matter what your next healthcare construction project is, one thing’s for certain – the facility needs to constantly and consistently provide exceptional care. 

Every day, doctors, nurses, receptionists, medical machines, computers, HVAC systems, security systems and more must work together to ensure all members within a healthcare organization are healthy, safe and comfortable, and a 24/7 facility doesn’t build itself overnight. Construction management provides the foundation for these healthcare facilities to continually support all patients, staff and visitors.

Like all healthcare fields, the healthcare construction industry has its own set of myths. Let’s learn the truth and debunk four of the most common ones:

Myth 1: Most healthcare construction managers stumbled onto this career

There are some unfortunate stereotypes associated with construction. The truth is a majority of construction managers are highly educated, licensed and registered in a multitude of related fields, especially in healthcare construction. In fact, many in the construction industry began their careers as educated contractors, professional engineers or certified architects, which requires rigorous additional training. Others got their start by turning compassion into a profession – many construction mangers will tell you they began their career after seeing a family member greatly affected by a healthcare provider.

Construction is also an extremely skilled and specialized career. Healthcare construction managers and workers must go through extensive training to gain the certifications and experience necessary to work on a healthcare project. And the training doesn’t stop once they’ve become certified. To keep ever-changing compliance standards top of mind, organizations will often emphasize routine trainings and workshops. Whether it be an online construction workshop presented by the American Society for Healthcare Engineering, or a brief refresher course on Life Safety Code, construction employees and managers are always working to improve their craft.

Myth 2: Healthcare construction managers only do construction

In this industry, healthcare construction managers wear many different (hard) hats. One day they’re preparing construction presentations for a hospital’s owners, the next they’re guiding window seal placement and advising on HVAC ventilation. But when a healthcare construction manager arrives on the construction site, they’re not “just another construction guy.” They’re both a representative of and an advocate for the new facility being built.

Acting as a liaison between the hospital’s owners and the construction manager’s team, each healthcare construction manager serves as a professional representative of the new facility. Throughout the three-step planning, design and construction processes, managers serve as leaders, advocating for the support of the facility. During a new project, healthcare construction managers represent every party so the facility will be as healthy as it hopes to make future patients.

Myth 3: Working in construction management is an easy job

There’s not just one type, or one way, of designing a healthcare facility. While it may look easy once built, healthcare facilities are the most complex of building types. Healthcare construction managers must build facilities with spaces of all different shapes, sizes and purposes, from operational centers and patient rooms to emergency departments and food service areas. Additional specialized expertise in electrical, mechanical and telecommunications systems are also required of construction workers to keep up with the ever-evolving functions of a hospital after opening.

Not only are healthcare facilities the most complex type of building, they are also the most heavily regulated. As with all construction projects, each structure must be up to code, complying with local and/or state general building regulations. Additionally, healthcare construction projects must also follow federal regulations. Standards set by The Joint Commission and OSHA, along with the Facility Guidelines Institute, protect public safety and health. These standards and regulations keep our patients, staff and visitors safe, but can also cause more than a few headaches when trying to keep track of them all.

Myth 4: Facilities management & healthcare construction shouldn’t mix

Healthcare construction shouldn’t end when facilities management begins. In order to create a safe environment, construction teams and facilities management teams must work together continuously. Planning, design and construction strategies should be communicated frequently throughout the life of a project so that all goals align with ongoing facilities maintenance.

When we combine facilities management services such as environment of care, emergency preparedness and regulatory compliance with construction services such as design, project management and capital planning, facilities will see the immediate ROI for their patients and staff. Integrating these services will provide invaluable benefits, such as increased service outcomes, streamlined communication systems and broadened team collaboration. As a continuous, never-ending cycle, healthcare construction and facilities management go hand in hand.

Start your next healthcare construction project by separating fact from fiction. From blueprints and groundbreaking to installation and opening, healthcare construction management sets the foundation for healthcare facilities of all shapes and sizes.

Mike Wood is the VP of Construction at Medxcel, which specializes in the creation, direction, organization and administration of Medxcel’s national construction portfolio. The company provides healthcare service support products and drives in-house capabilities, savings and efficiencies for healthcare organizations that, in turn, improve the overall healing environment for patients and staff.



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