The UK’s medical real estate sector is one of the largest and most dynamic in the world. According to global property adviser Knight Frank, the sector saw £1.32 billion’s worth of investment in 2017 alone. What is more, the government recently announced a £3.7 billion plan to build 40 new hospitals by 2030.
Like so many other parts of the construction industry, the firms who specialise in building medical facilities are increasingly turning to digital tools to make their projects run better. New construction technology (ConTech) can help them work more efficiently and make more competitive bids for this pipeline of work.
So, should you be using ConTech?
What is ConTech?
Construction technology refers to a variety of tools that help with the planning and management of building projects (both before, during and after completion). It refers to apps and tools that focus on the structure and actual building itself – things like managing workers on a site, allocating tasks or conducting inspections of work. ConTech often focuses on the planning and build stage, but also supports certain facilities management tasks once the asset is occupied.
There are multiple types of ConTech that can help medical building designers and contractors complete projects more efficiently:
- 3D prefabrication computer modelling
- BIM technology for virtual design
- Integrated project management software
- Web-based construction management software
- On-site apps that help with task management
- Building inspections and site diary tools
New tools: What is PropTech?
What are the challenges of medical real estate projects?
Healthcare facilities encompass a wide range of assets, from small and simple medical clinics to large, complex, and costly research hospitals. Furthermore, the design of health care facilities must comply with many regulations and technical requirements.
Less than half of hospital construction projects are completed on time and to budget. Why is this?
- Complexity: Hospitals are some of the most complicated assets to deliver. The buildings often require specialist engineering and contain unusual equipment and facilities.
- Overpromising: It is always tempting for politicians to promise new hospitals by a certain date – but the realities often make their statements unrealistic.
- Consensus: There are many parties who have an interest in the direction and design of a hospital, so reaching consensus takes time.
- Procurement issues: Procurement processes tend to be relatively traditional with little collaboration.
- Lack of understanding: Some subcontractors may have a limited understanding of the day to day running of hospitals or the complexities of building them. This can then lead to unrealistic bids.
These challenges are significant. However, as recent successful hospital projects show – such as the University College London Hospitals (UCLH) build – a combination of teamwork, planning and technology can undeniably help deliver projects on time and under budget.
How ConTech can help medical construction projects
ConTech can help address many of the problems encountered in medical construction projects and is very well suited to this sector:
A single hub for information
Given their sensitivity, there is normally a large number of stakeholders on any medical construction project. This includes clients (from various government departments), architects, contractors, local councillors, and community groups. There is also the need to engage with medical staff to benefit from their expertise.
ConTech tools allow you to bring all project information into a single, centralised hub – that avoids silos and misunderstandings. It also means people can view plans and communicate with ease.
Successful construction projects rely on teamwork, and ConTech makes it much easier to get teams talking and working on the same page. As a result of a single central hub that everyone has access to, the entire project team feels involved with and understands the project. They can also communicate and bounce ideas off one another, report on problems and address other issues.
ConTech tools create a digital ‘paper trail’ that shows who did what, and when. You can then trace all decisions to individual users. This ensures accountability.
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The diversity of team members working on a medical building project makes it almost impossible to get everyone in a meeting together. ConTech tools provide advanced communication methods where project participants send, receive and discuss information. This is significantly easier than sending emails where everyone is copied in.
Data accessibility and backup
Using cloud-based ConTech platforms means that you automatically back up all documents and plans safely and securely. This saves time and money when compared to storing data on-site. It also means that team members can access the project data any time they need.
Most healthcare projects are megaprojects with multiple inputs. ConTech uses smart data analysis to help you calculate and document every cost base accurately and minimise expense. This feature is especially important in publicly funded projects.
Start using ConTech on your next medical real estate project
ConTech brings multiple benefits to firms building medical facilities. By letting you communicate, collaborate and manage projects more efficiently, they ensure even the most complex projects get a clean bill of health.
To see how PlanRadar could support your next medical real estate project, sign up for your free trial today.