Reducing per-patient cost with modular building

June 30, 2010
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Hospitals are frequently looking for ways to cut costs and increase revenue while still providing the amenities patients have come to expect from a full-service healthcare facility. One way to mitigate these costs is with interim modular facilities that can be designed and constructed on a much faster timeframe and afford a hospital a low-cost space to perform high-cost procedures.
Reducing per-patient cost with modular building
With the passage of healthcare reform and the ever-increasing competition for patients, hospitals are frequently looking for ways to cut costs and increase revenue while still providing the amenities patients have come to expect from a full-service healthcare facility. One way to mitigate these costs is with interim modular facilities that can be designed and constructed on a much faster timeframe and afford a hospital a low-cost space to perform high-cost procedures. Healthcare Building Ideas Online Editor Chris Gaerig recently sat down with Jim Gabriel, Director of Business Development for MedBuild, a modular building company.

Chris Gaerig: What is it that MedBuild does?

Jim Gabriel: We are a commercial modular building provider. In healthcare space, that means we provide an accelerated solution to providing application-based space, all within the patient care environment. We, along with our partners, will provide a comprehensive diagnostic imaging suite, for example. We do that on an accelerated basis. What it does for people is, in a number of ways, it provides an accelerated solution for increased capacity—the ability to see patients more quickly. That’s meaningful obviously to the healthcare provider who’s looking at it now and saying, “Our reimbursements are most certainly going to be cut. We’ve got to reduce costs and create the ability to see more patients and be more efficient when we see them.” It’s not just get-them-in/get-them-out. We have to have the ability to not just diagnose but treat. Having the ability to be flexible with space and create opportunities to turn projects around more quickly—particularly if you believe, which I certainly do, that there has been a significant lag in construction because of healthcare reform. We not only accommodate this financial aspect, but we also do it in a way that is patient friendly. It’s not just the quick, down-and-dirty, cheap alternative to construction. It’s conventional materials. We use modular to accelerate the process of getting those additions in place, whether it’s an addition or a free-standing structure, with the added benefit of being able to relocate that building at a future date.

Hospitals are trying to resolve their issues quickly without compromising their master plans. We get that a lot. The benefit of modular is that it gives you the space you need immediately but also gives you the ability to be flexible and relocate that space to another site.

A lot of clients are looking for interim solutions. Interim is always relative. Sometimes it means a couple of weeks, but in today’s world, it means having a five-year plan. We need a plan for the next five years because we’re not sure, in total, how healthcare reform is going to affect us. But, we do know that we need to be able to increase capacity and see more patients more quickly now.

Gaerig: You seem as interested in the construction of these spaces as you are redefining how healthcare is delivered in those spaces.

Gabriel: That’s a by-product and something we’re now looking at. It’s even more relative than it’s ever been. In the past, we went from a very functional method of delivering healthcare services to a very resort style—you don’t know the difference between our hospital and a Four Seasons. I’m not saying those days are gone, but there was a lot of money spent doing that. The money may not always be there but the need is certainly there. So hospitals, particularly community hospitals and rural hospitals, to be viable and functional, they’ve got to keep up capacity and increase the ability to expand, not just their buildings, but their service level and care delivery. This means generating more revenue. Even if it’s not a capacity issue, it’s increasing the per-patient revenue. The only way to do that is to increase the areas where that revenue is generated. And if you don’t have the needed services in-house, you may have to refer them elsewhere—and you may not get them back.

Gaerig: So you don’t advocate for the hospitality movement?
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