Always striving to improve efficiency, save money and please patients, hospitals are investing in the latest technology inside the building as well as during facility construction.

Advancing technology not only aids the design and construction process in health care, it is increasingly driving health care projects, according to the 2020 Hospital Construction Survey conducted by the American Society for Health Care Engineering’s (ASHE’s) Health Facilities Management magazine. When asked what percentage of health care projects in the past three years have been driven by technology upgrades, two-thirds of respondents said that up to 30% of renovation projects were driven by technology.

Asked what building technology systems in the main hospital inpatient building are being replaced or upgraded (see charts, page 26), most respondents named building automation systems (BASs). The survey shows that 31% are replacing/upgrading their BASs; 11% replaced/upgraded their BASs in the past two years; and 13% plan to upgrade or replace their BASs in the next year or two.

BASs, which are capable of supporting energy efficiencies and integrating with other types of software to offer greater control, remain extremely critical to facilities managers. “Building controls and automation is still a big issue, especially, I think, for smaller facilities,” says 2020 ASHE President Jeffrey E. Henne, FASHE, CHSP-FSM, CHEP, CHC, safety and emergency manager at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia. “We have tied temperature and humidity into BAS.”

Other building technologies that ranked high on the survey for current projects include temperature and humidity monitoring and nurse call systems. Security systems (access control and CCTV) and fire alarm/protection systems are each being replaced or upgraded by 18% of respondents, demonstrating the priority hospitals place on patient safety. 

Upgrades to temperature systems is driven by regulations for monitoring refrigerators, freezers and other temperature-controlled areas. Hospitals must also comply with guidelines on humidity monitoring for sterile storage, operating rooms, treatment rooms, pharmacies and laboratories. ASHE has developed numerous compliance tools to help hospitals meet quickly changing regulations and standards.

Hospitals also continue to fund the infrastructure upgrades needed to operate and integrate building technology and systems. In terms of data infrastructure (wired, wireless and cable), more than 30% of respondents are currently upgrading or replacing these systems. 

Approximately 13% are replacing or upgrading network infrastructure (LAN, WAN, routers and switches). And, in an increasingly digital world, cybersecurity is critical to every hospital, Henne says. 

“Cybersecurity is a very important piece to any infrastructure in the hospital,” he says. “The [information technology] department has a very tough job maintaining any threats or viruses that may occur.”