Health Care Construction Expected to Increase

MINNEAPOLIS — A majority of health care facility administrators expect construction to increase in the next one to two years, according to a survey conducted by Mortenson Construction.

Conducted at the Fall 2011 Healthcare Design Conference in Nashville, Tenn., the survey questioned more than 300 conference attendees. Mortenson sponsored the event’s cyber café and surveyed attendees as they logged in to use the computers. Participants included health care administrators and facilities managers, architects, builders and suppliers.

“The challenge in doing these types of surveys is getting a lot of responses, and I think we finally hit on methodology here,” said Steve Pekala, Mortenson’s manager of market intelligence. “This is a way that lets you get a lot of responses from the exact kind of people that you want to talk to.”

The survey found that despite the state of the economy, 75 percent of respondents expect their organization’s construction activity to increase over the next 12 to 24 months. Additionally, 70 percent of health care institution respondents said their organizations are pursuing LEED or other sustainability certifications on new projects.

Key highlights of the survey also included responses to evidence-based design (EBD) questions, where 87 percent of respondents said EBD’s popularity was growing within their organization, half saying it is an integral component of their institutions work. However, Pekala notes that owners had a bit more faith in EBD than the architects did.

“Maybe its just because the architects are a little closer to it and work with it more on a day-to-day basis and they see more of the limitation in it, but most owners felt like there was plenty of evidence out there to allow evidence-based design to be broadly utilized, but most of the architects didn’t see that,” said Pekala. “And then most of the architects said that the uniqueness of health care projects really limit where evidence-based design can be applied, but the owners didn’t see it that way.”

Architects and owners also differed when it comes to alternative delivery, with architects noticing a growing interest in alternative delivery interest but owners seeing things differently.

“This is an industry that is in kind of a tough spot. They are worried about healthcare legislation. They are worried that reimbursements from the government are going to go down. Medicaid, they think, is badly broken and urgently needs to be fixed. But then, at the same time, they are very optimistic about the future. They are very optimistic in their own ability. They are optimistic that they will be able to pick themselves up and face these problems head on,” said Pekala. “I thought that was kind of interesting; we got lot of negative answers to questions about the state of the industry, but then I got this huge optimism about the future.”

To download the survey results visit and click on Healthcare Industry and Design Trends, Jan. 27, 2012.

Mortenson began conducting these types of surveys at trade shows within the past year and has completed surveys on mission critical/data centers, education, solar energy and wind energy. Studies on building in China and on stadium building will take place within the next couple of months.

The company is the second-largest owner of wind farms in the country and one of the top builders of utility-scale solar, says Pekala. Renewable energy comprises about one-third of Mortenson’s business and the rest is traditional commercial, including a lot of healthcare, higher education and mission critical facilities.

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