The American Institute of Architects' recent consensus forecast for health care construction shows a favorable 2015 ending and an even more promising 2016, putting their growth forecasts at 2.4 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively.

The forecast averages numbers from seven organizations, and although the numbers and definitions of what falls into the health care category vary from group to group (for 2016, for instance, IHS Economics forecasts 12.5 percent growth while Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. pins the number more conservatively at 3.1 percent) the overarching theme is the same: health care construction is on the rise.

When it’s broken down to a local level, that rise is easier to see in some places than others. For instance, major urban areas such as New York and Chicago have seen a steady wave of ambulatory care construction in recent months. In Brevard County, Fla., commercial builder MH Williams Construction Group Inc. says it has benefited from present and future health care construction demands in the county. In Illinois, MercyRockford Health System just announced it is planning a $400 million hospital that will add to a cluster of health care facilities already gathered there, including facilities from two other growing health systems, the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford and the Saint Anthony College of Nursing, as well as other health care-related businesses.

Health care systems are finding firm footing and marking out clear paths for themselves that show a greater understanding of where the industry is headed. In our 2015 Hospital Construction Survey, respondents discussed managing facility portfolios with the backdrop of population health and value-based care as major influencers on where and what to build. Many health systems are a bit more confident of what the future will hold, but still cautious enough to know that change is constant, and flexibility will be key to their success.

In a recent interview with Andrew Quirk, a thought leader at Skanska and partner in NXT Health's Patient Room 2020 program, he calls the industry's current state "a health care renaissance." Quirk says the way health care facilities are built and the people in charge of building them are becoming increasingly important.

"Given how most hospitals have been constructed, there's no way they will be able to support the delivery of health care, as it is expected to evolve in the next five or 10 years," Skanska says. "Our role in the changing landscape is just as important as that of clinicians and patients."