Healthy assets – healthy people
When we visit a hospital as a patient the last thing we tend to think of is how the hospital’s assets are planned and managed, and what effect this might have on us. Instead, we simply rely on the system to work and that the health professionals who care for us have the facilities and equipment they require. What we don’t often think about is that healthy asset management is critical to patient outcomes, and that the entire health system is reliant on each and every facility performing well.
In Australia, with a rapidly ageing population, predominance of chronic health problems, geographic distances and service pressures, the demand for – and cost of – the health system is set to grow exponentially over the next few decades. Indeed, in many quarters the country’s healthcare spending is seen as unsustainable and a drain on the economy. This has led to long term strategic planning from State Governments on how to meet the growing expectations and needs of the public. At the centre of this is our hospital system, and the manner with which we plan, build and manage them.
Reviewing major projects
With a long history of cost and time blow-outs for major projects, public and private efforts have become heavily focussed on improving outcomes by introducing new technological and material innovations, as well as introducing new supplier engagement models. Yet even with this focus, a large percentage of major projects still do not meet their strategic objectives and continue to produce variable delivery performance while making it very difficult to accurately project cash flow. Often, this has been due to the very nature of onsite construction with its changing weather conditions, the enormous coordination required between suppliers and workers, the complicated reporting mechanisms and bottlenecks created by a reliance on specialist resources at key moments in the construction timeline.
The Avenue Private Hospital. Windsor, VIC
To contend with these issues, many State Governments have now begun to incorporate offsite construction into their projects as a way to reduce time and variability while also increasing quality, health and safety. This has led to projects being assessed on their ‘whole life value’ and the manner in which modular construction can add flexibility, sustainability and recyclability into the life cycle. In addition, improved quality from highly engineered factory made solutions are seen as one way to lower failure rates and improve longevity, while minimising the long term cost of maintenance and eventual replacement. So much so that with modular construction, less complex asset replacement and enhancement is required, and assets can even have second and third lives due to portability.
Making temporary things permanent
Another major advantage to the almost ‘plug and play’ nature of modular construction is that during phased building programs, where existing assets are being refurbished, temporary solutions can be utilised numerous times, and even turned into a permanent aspect of the project when required. As many redevelopments take place on existing hospital sites it is essential that the day to day operations of the staff and clinicians are not compromised in providing patient care. And, that when patients are required to be relocated, their need for a high level of amenity and comfort can still be met.
Not surprisingly, highly designed modular solutions are being seen by asset managers as meeting the needs of all of their stakeholders while providing more options when they wish to expand, renew or retrofit their assets.
One great example is the Hornsby Hospital refurbishment project. As part of a wider refurbishment project for the hospital, Modscape was asked by Health Infrastructure NSW to design and deliver additional ward rooms, a rehabilitation gym, office spaces, staff training spaces, library, meeting rooms and staff amenities. In addition, once the major refurbishment of the existing hospital was complete, the project managers wished to redeploy these assets as part of the permanent design.
Rather than opt for a traditional onsite build that may have taken over a year, the Modscape solution was built within 11 weeks, installed over two nights and fitted-out over a further 6 weeks. With patients happily relocated, and health professionals equipped to deliver excellent care, the next phase will redeploy and incorporate the temporary structures into the permanent project.