Healthcare v Wisconsin

Irgens VP: Healthcare industry evolves as patients seek care in new ways

It's a myth that healthcare construction hasn't suffered during the economy's down times.

[caption id="attachment_18768" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="An example of Irgens' work on outpatient facilities."] It's a myth that healthcare construction hasn't suffered during the economy's down times.

The theory goes that people still have to see their doctors when they're sick or when they've broken their legs, whether they economy is booming or crashing.

But there's another side to this: People can put off elective medical procedures when the ecnoomy is down. And they can skip physicals and screenings if their wallets aren't feeling fat.

And this is what has happened throughout the national economy's struggles.

Dan Cowell, vice president and market manager with Irgens, a developer with offices in Milwaukee, Chicago and Phoenix, said that across the nation the construction of outpatient healthcare facilities -- to use one benchmark -- in 2010, 2011 and 2012 was down by more than 50 percent from 2006, 2007 and 2008 totals.

This doesn't mean, though, that the healthcare construction business has ground to a halt.

"The industry did not shut down to a trickle like others," Cowell said.

Cowell says that he expects outpatient construction to steadily grow in the coming years, largely because of changes in they U.S. consumers approach healthcare. The healthcare construction industry is evolving. Patients are more frequently letting outpatient facilities handle medical situations that they previously would have brought to full-service hospitals.

Cowell says that a growing number of exams, diagnositcs, procedures and surgeries have moved to the outpatient world.

"Changing consumer preferences and a push to find the lowest cost of quality care are also affecting this trend," Cowell said. "An increase in life expectancy and an aging population have caused the average patient to require care for a longer period of time. All of these dynamics are anticipated to continue and will continue to sustain growth in the outpatient healthcare real estate sector into the foreseeable future."