Healthcare construction is evolving. The facilities being built today are more technology advanced than the buildings of the past, and this is requiring general contractors, owners, and subs to approach hospital projects in a new way.

In Nashville, an integrated showroom is being built to demonstrate how RFID (radio frequency identification) and RTLS (realtime locating systems) technologies can be used in hospitals.

The Intelligent Hospital will resemble an actual hospital and show how RFID and RTLS can deliver patient information to connected devices. The technology complex will be developed in three phases and include The Intelligent Hospital, The Center of Excellence for research and testing, and the Intl. Technology Pavilions, which will house manufacturer and supplier products and services.

But what does the hospital of the future mean for construction companies? Contractors tasked with managing healthcare construction projects today have the big job of managing the influx of technology.

As a real-world example, the Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, Ill., features patient-tracking software so families can keep an eye on patients, as well as medical-telemetry technology so doctors can track vitals remotely. Mortenson Construction, www.mortenson.com, Minneapolis, Minn., played a big role in building the hospital.

“Probably the biggest trend is how technologically advanced new hospitals are,” says Greg Werner, vice president and general manager of Mortenson’s Chicago office. “For example, the infrastructure required for electronic medical records … that is certainly a trend now. From a technology standpoint—whether that is AV or electronic records, communications, nurse calls, security—all of those systems are significantly more sophisticated today than they were in recent years.”

In order to meet the growing IT demands within hospitals, data centers will likely grow. Silver Cross Hospital recently unveiled a new data center to accommodate the explosion in patient information. By storing records in a data center—as opposed to printing and filing documentation—hospitals can save a significant cost on paper and better manage records.

For contractors, having a technology integrator on hand can ease the implementation of new technologies on healthcare construction projects. For example, Mortenson has low-voltage and IT specialists on staff to help. A recent article published in Constructech magazine looks specifically at the role specialty contractors can play in integrating technology on healthcare projects.

Beyond the data center and amount of new technology in hospitals, another big trend in healthcare construction is the use of green materials on projects. Werner says the majority of healthcare projects today have some sort of green or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification associated with the facility and Mortenson works with customers and the design team to facilitate green building.

In particular, the construction company has a Web-based project portal where any member of the team can access critical data about LEED certification. Technology such as this allows project participants to gain access to green project information in order to build more sustainable facilities. Interested in learning more about how technology can help construction teams go green? Check out the recent cover story in the May/June issue of Constructech magazine.

The hospital of the future is certainly ripe with possibilities for new technology innovation. From tracking vitals to monitoring patient whereabouts, healthcare facilities are some of the most technology advanced. For contractors building these projects, technology know-how could be key to helping the build run a bit smoother.