One of the takeaways from our most recent Hospital Construction Survey was that the weak activity following the recession and reform battle has abated and health care organizations are tentatively starting to build again.

Attendees at last month's International Summit & Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design & Construction (PDC) in Orlando, Fla., saw a vision of this new building activity as they discussed a future in which a premium is placed on design solutions that improve quality and efficiency while promising new technologies are explored for their longer-term potential.

With a theme of "Building for the Ages," the American Society for Healthcare Engineering event focused on practical approaches to achieving energy benchmarks and other sustainability goals, improving patient safety and similar quality measures, and offered a wealth of information on designing infrastructures to handle the complex data demands of the modern health care enterprise.

Programs focusing purely on architectural issues also centered on practical solutions as they looked both forward to the challenges of planning for population health and backward at iconic hospital designs that still have much to teach health facility planners. Regulatory compliance, evidence-based design and a variety of real-world building models also were explored.

All of which is not to say the event didn't have its esoteric moments. In fact, several speakers took note of recent scientific and technical developments and ventured to predict what they might mean for facilities further into the future.

As the health care industry starts to build again, the trends discussed at this year's PDC Summit will be setting the agenda for some time to come.